Skip to comments.Announcing New Life -- Christians are called to be not only defenders of life but also restorers
Posted on 07/21/2002 6:37:55 PM PDT by Salvation
Announcing New Life
Christians are called to be not only defenders of life but also restorers of life. by Father Tom Forrest, C.Ss.R.
In this story of the raising of the dead son of the widow of Nain, Jesus reveals himself as a conqueror of death. He comes upon a scene of terrible sadness and changes the anguish of death into joy, the pain of separation into the thrill of reunion. The same power that on this occasion brought a dead boy back to his mothers arms, on many other occasions brought sons and daughters spiritually dead through sin back to the loving arms of a heavenly Father.
As evangelizers, we too are called to be conquerors of death, communicators of new and abundant life, renewers of the human condition as we lead people to rebirth and re-creation. This story of a widow who lost both her husband and her only son to death offers a model of our task as Christians, people of God and servants of his people.
Heralds of Good News. All sin does damage to our lives as children of God. It can even destroy life completely. We have all been born into the death of original sin and must be brought to life by baptism. Those who suffer the death of personal sins must be brought back to life by faith in the victory of Christ. Its our job as Christians to be heralds of the good news, to proclaim to both the physically and spiritually dead that they can come back to life.
The world has never heard happier or more important news. This is more important than any announcement made by Sigmund Freud or Dr. Jonas Salk. We can come back from the dead! We can come back from our wounds, weaknesses, and sins to the health and innocence of the children of God (1 John 3:9)!
In athletics, business, and politics, people work with incredible enthusiasm and determination in their quest of fame, money, power, and pleasure. But no one ever had a goal comparable in importance to that of a Christian as a restorer of life. We are chosen and anointed instruments of nothing less than the resurrection! We are chosen to speak words of life, words of hope, words of rebirth and re-creation, to those who are spiritually or emotionally dead or dying. We are chosen to speak the way Jesus spoke to the dead son of the widow of Nain. We have been chosen to echo Jesus proclamation: Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die (John 11:25-26).
These words have meaning for the here and the hereafter! God the Father raised his crucified Son from the dead so we could rise with him to a new life, the life of Gods children, life in abundance (John 10:10). That life begins with belief, and belief begins with clear proclamation: How are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? (Romans 10:14).
A Culture of Death. The world needs to hear this proclamation of the new life that is ours in Jesus Christ. People can be so misled and confused by what Pope John Paul II calls the culture of death and see death as the easiest solution to many of our problems. Or they can lose their sense of the reality of death as newspapers and news programs bombard their minds with the latest tallies of deaths resulting from wars, acts of terrorism, racial violence, state executions, murders, assisted suicides, and the millions of abortions.
But these are not the only deaths over which we have to proclaim victory. There are also the deaths of marriages, killed by a love turned to hatred or put to death by the suicide of a quick decision to divorce. There are all the suicidal deaths through addictions to drugs and alcohol, the plight of those whose hope has died completely. Vital relationships are dying every day as people allow the tiniest word or slightest offense to end a valuable friendship.
All over the world, peace is dying because nations and cultures do not see their differences as gifts to be shared but as divisions to be resolved through war and death. They have no sense of the forgiveness we have been sent to proclaim!
Messengers of Hope. God is calling us to an action so vital and practical that it can make the difference between life and death. Our task is to be conquerors of death in this valley of tears (1 Corinthians 15:54-57; John 16:33; Revelation 21:4). Like Ezekiel, we must prophesy life back into the dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14). Like St. Paul optimistically calling out Dont worry! after a young boy took a fatal fall from a window (Acts 20:9-12), we must pray to bring back to life all those who have suffered a fatal fall from grace. And like Jesus commanding the mourners, Go away! once he reached the home of the little dead girl (Matthew 9:24), we must restore hope to all those who are trapped in despair and grief.
Jesus commanded his disciples, Preach as you go, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead (Matthew 10:7-8). This is exactly what we are doing when we evangelize. We are administrators of the only healing available to those spiritually dead through sin. We are the resuscitators of those dying because of failed relationships, disordered emotions, or overpowering passions. Do you want to know what a Christian is? A Christian is a messenger of hope, an angel of light, a communicator of life with a voice filled with optimism and joy.
We are sent to cry out Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55). We are to lead every Lazarus we find out of the tomb. We have a message that can transform even the inescapable reality of physical death into nothing more worrisome than a peaceful transition to a better life. We are sent as salt to restore flavor to a world gone sour with too much sin and death (Matthew 5:13). Salt is a preservative. Our job is to keep the world preserved from going bad and dying the death of despair.
We are sent as light to people so blinded by despair that they are unable to forgive others or even to forgive their own sins. We are sent to carry hope, the healing message of the Father of life, to all his beloved children threatened by either the attraction or fear of death.
Passing On the Torch. There is a living Savior to announce, the conqueror of death, the giver of life who calls himself the way, and the truth, and the life (John 14:6). There is a world to be saved, sin and death to be overcome, families and nations to be kept alive in hope, children to be protected, crimes and wars to be avoided, hunger and injustice to be ended. There is a humanity in need of healing, peace, and love. There are millions who need a new life, millions in need of resurrection.
Because the whole world needs us so badly, we cant surrender to discouragement. The world has enough of that already! We must be vibrant, enthusiastic, and dedicated Christians of the gospel of Life. Our task is to pass the torch of life to our fellow Christians and to all people, setting them on fire with joy to share with others the thrilling and totally satisfying life of Christ. We are leaders of Gods Easter people, ministers of nothing less than resurrection.
May we see the dead coming back to life as God uses us as his chosen instruments of the new creation! May the Holy Spirit, who gave life to the church, empower us. May our dear mother Mary, who gave life to the Savior of the world, inspire us to go and bring the dead back to a life destined to last for all eternity, together and alive in Christ. We can bring a world lost in the darkness of death back to the Light of Life!
Any thoughts from any of you?
I love that part! Thanks for posting such uplifting articles. They are an oasis sometimes.
Thought the following story from the webmaster at www.spiritdaily.com, would surely be an inspiritational example of evangelization.
By Michael H. Brown
A little over ten years ago I attended a pro-life conference in Chicago and there met a man named Thomas S. Monaghan, who at the time owned Domino's Pizza, a major-league baseball team (the Detroit Tigers), and a software company. Back then he was said to be worth $600 million but ended up a billionaire.
I was impressed with his wealth, of course, but more so with what he decided to do with it. He said he planned to divest his companies and dedicate the rest of his life to serving his faith, which is Catholicism. He told me two of the very highest points of his life had been meeting the Pope in his private chapel (where Monaghan received Communion from the Pope's hands) and being present for an apparition at Medjugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovina. After his spiritual awakening, Monaghan halted construction on a home that if I recall accurately was to be located in the Ann Arbor area and cost more than $30 million.
The house, I gather, ended up significantly smaller, and true to his words, Monaghan ended up selling both Domino's and the Tigers. He has taken his fortune and used it to build missions or churches in Third World countries like Nicaragua (where he paid three-quarters the cost of a new cathedral) and has founded Ave Maria, a Catholic law school in Michigan. This man who could easily have afforded a fleet of his own jets has also taken to flying coach, and has started up an organization for Catholic CEOs that focuses on spirituality. One newspaper quoted him as saying that the idea came from "divine inspiration." His new goal, he says, is to "die broke."
Obviously, Thomas Monaghan is not going to end up on the street, but it was his way of saying that he planned to allocate most of his money in service to God. I don't know the accuracy of every little detail, but the point is that he is following what Jesus asked of the rich man (Matthew 19:21) and is doing what we all, rich or poor, are supposed to do: take gifts we have been given and use them for the Lord and the betterment not of self but of mankind.
It is time for more CEOs -- for all CEOs, for all wealthy people, and for everyone else -- to wake up to what is right to do with their money. I don't know if everyone is meant to take the exact same course but do you realize how many kids in the Philippines or Pakistan or India or Tanzania can be fed with $1 million -- which is what countless rich Americans spend every year on their yachts?
This is a sin greater than what our "Christian" society will acknowledge.
The Pope himself sternly warned in 1999 (during his trip to the U.S.) against a runaway free-market system and a "purely economic conception of man."
A basic tenet of Christianity is that one cannot serve both God and mammon -- yet this is precisely what a majority of Americans, perhaps a large majority, now do. Too many have become slaves to gold and bonds and the stock market, not realizing that the Catholic Church has long taught that capitalism can become as evil as socialism and that it is wrong to compete selfishly or to gamble or to gouge each other -- to take advantage, to charge "whatever the market will bear."
As historian Barbara Tuchman recounts, our Christian forbearers stated "that profit beyond a minimum necessary to support the dealer was avarice, that to make money out of money by charging interest on a loan was the sin of usury" and that "prices should be set at a 'just' level, meaning the value of the labor added to the value of the raw material." In Church history, usury was considered to be the charging of a higher rate than was absolutely necessary. Take a look at interest payments on new homes or what credit-card companies charge and see if there is something fundamentally wrong with the modern system.
This may seem radical, but it is what is taught by our Church. In a right world, a man makes good money for providing legitimate societal benefit.
But this is not what we see in the modern world. Today we see executives who cart off not millions but tens of millions from companies that aren't even viable and that they did not even start and who when you really look at it produce nothing.
I remember when I lived in Manhattan in the Roaring Eighties and 25-year-old kids who were working the foreign exchange desks down at the World Trade Center could afford limousines and big nights out and I remember the commodity brokers who were sapping the systems while the farmers who actually grew the product were going bankrupt.
Contrast this with Jesus, Who Himself is never recorded to have owned anything but the clothes He wore and the scars from His cross.
I know plenty of wealthy people who are very decent -- and excellent Catholics. Being prosperous doesn't make somebody evil. And being poor doesn't make someone good.
But as Jesus said, how difficult it is for the rich to gain direct entry into heaven.
Tom Monaghan? I don't know Tom Monaghan. We met that brief time. But I'll never forget him. To me, he's an American hero, or at least a great example of a Catholic businessman. The last time I saw him in the news he was proposing to build what might be the world's largest Crucifix (or at least the tallest free-standing one in the West). The proposed 25-story crucifix, planned for the law school campus, would be taller than the old General Motors Building, taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and just 51 feet short of the Statue of Liberty's torch.
I don't know if he's going ahead with that plan, but I know if more CEOs followed his way an awful lot more of them would find their way through the eye of the needle.
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You will do it! The Small Church Communities sounds OK -- I am just very partial to the Disciples in Mission small group formation.
Dear Mary Foundation Visitor,
John Corapi's Amazing Story" is just that: amazing. You'll have to listen to it yourself to appreciate how one man can go from the utter depths of despair to the heights of supernatural happiness.
Because it was the first recording released to the general public featuring Father Corapi, virtually no one in America knew who he was at the time. Of course, Father Corapi has since become one of the most influential Catholic speakers of our times, appearing at countless conferences, parish missions, and regularly on EWTN, the global Catholic television network.
I often compare Father Corapi to Saint Anthony, who also had the ineffable power of God fueling his speaking ability, giving him supernatural influence beyond the meaning of his words.
You'll find out exactly what I mean when you hear the incredible story of his life. But first, I want to tell you what happened to me when we recorded "John Corapi's Amazing Story."
In 1983, while I was an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame, a group of students and I decided to consecrate our hearts to Immaculate Mary as members of the Militia Immaculata. One of the men in the chapel that day, was Tony Anderson. After graduating, Tony entered a small and dynamic new congregation called S.O.L.T., the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. It just so happened that Father Tony studied to be a priest alongside an unusually talented man with a water-well-deep voice, and they had just been ordained, side by side, in Rome.
Father Tony gave me a "bootleg" recording of his fellow priest, telling me, "You have to listen to this guy. His story is amazing." So I listened. I was so moved that I loosely based a character in my first novel on his story. And the Mary Foundation decided to introduce Father Corapi to the world. And now you can get to know him, too.
Since then, Father Corapi has given his testimony many times to many audiences, but I'll never forget the day we recorded "John Corapi's Amazing Story" for the Mary Foundation. He happened to be in his hometown in upstate New York. We met with a group of people in the grammar school gym where John had played as a young boy. I set up the recording equipment myself, off to the side, on the hardwood floor.
While Father gave his talk, something happened to me that has never happened before or since. There is a part near the end of the talk where Father Corapi implores listeners to "Answer the call!" You'll know it when you hear it. It's powerful.
During this riveting section, even though I was alone and off to the side in a stale-aired gym several yards from the nearest listener, I smelled the most beautiful fragrance I've ever smelled in my life. It was overwhelming, like heavenly flowers. I looked around to see if someone had spilled a bottle of perfume near me. No one was nearby. There were no flowers in the gym, of course.
The fragrance graced my nostrils for several minutes; it dawned on me what was happening. I had heard stories about the "gift of fragrance" before, usually the scent of roses to indicate that Our Lady was nearby in a supernatural way. Now it was happening to me, Bud Macfarlane, just another guy from New Jersey!
I'm not the kind of person this type of thing happens to. And I'm not a "flowers" kind of guy. I don't like perfume, but this fragrance was different. It was powerful but not in a way that was off-putting. It was as if I was inhaling Beauty itself. It was, in a word, miraculous.
After the recording was complete, I thanked Father Corapi, then went to the people who, although far away, were seated closest to me. They had not smelled anything out of the ordinary. I told Father Corapi about it, and he just nodded in a knowing kind of way.
I drove back to the Mary Foundation, recording in hand, knowing for certain that we had something that was going to help countless souls. And so it has. As I look back on the experience, I often wonder exactly what kind of flower I was smelling.
What it the fragrance of a rose? No, it wasn't roses; I know that smell pretty well, since roses are the only flowers I buy for my wife. The more I reflect upon that incredible day, and every time I listen to "Father Corapi's Amazing Story," the more certain I become that the lovely fragrance from heaven which I smelled during the recording was that of...lilacs.
When you hear "John Corapi's Amazing Story," you'll understand the significance of lilacs.
I warmly invite you to experience this miraculous talk in your own way by requesting your free copy today.
With Immaculate Mary,
Bud Macfarlane, Jr.
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him
that he got into a boat and sat down,
and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
"A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear."
The Parable of the Sower as an inspiration for all who evangelize! (All of us, BTW, as we go through our daily lives in our homes, churches, workplaces and society in general, spreading the Good News of the Risen Jesus Christ.)