Sunday June 9 2024

1st reading: Gen 3, 9-15
Psalm: 129
2rd reading: 2 Cor 4, 13 – 5, 1
Gospel: Mk 3, 20-35

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“We know that he who resurrected the Lord Jesus will also resurrect us with Jesus, and he will place us near him with you... If in us the external man goes towards his ruin, the internal man is renewed from day by day. For our present distress is light compared to the truly incomparable weight of eternal glory which it produces for us.” The apostle Paul invites us to raise our gaze towards our true horizon, which is Heaven, the Kingdom, the glory of God. God wants all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, Paul said to Timothy (1 Tim 2,4:XNUMX). If we lose sight of the true horizon of human life, then the true meaning of human life disappears, the meaning of death disappears, the meaning of suffering disappears and we come to assert that helping to die, it consists of helping to live. However, it has been a long time since we gave up wanting a circle to be square in geometry... No! Helping people experience their death, yes, is helping them live! But to make one die is not to make one live. There is only one in all the history of humanity, only one man, who can lead us into death as into a path of life: it is Jesus, and no other. When the rich young man comes to Jesus to ask him how to go to Heaven, Jesus does not tell him to kill himself; he first tells him to observe the commandments, then seeing that this man lives these commandments, he invites him to rely completely on him, Jesus... because it is he who holds the keys to life and he alone can make us enter into death as into a path of life. This is the whole mystery of the cross. 

We must desire Heaven. We must want to go to Heaven. In Saint Thérèse, it is a major theme, this “beautiful Sky” of which she speaks. She also calls this “beautiful Sky” “the Homeland”. And very often, it returns to these two movements: that of the Incarnation, where Jesus leaves this beautiful Heaven to come and share our exile, and the movement of the Ascension into which we are drawn precisely by the grace of God: this movement of the Ascension which is to leave this exile to join the beautiful Heaven. And the only one who can take us on this journey is Jesus.

But we see clearly with today's readings that there is a difficulty in situating oneself in relation to Jesus. Paul, very clearly, affirms how, in Jesus, this Kingdom is given to us, this glory is given to us; how he himself is deep down, this building built by God, how he himself is our eternal home in the heavens. And in the Gospel, we hear people “from Jesus” — we don't really know who they are — saying that he has lost his head. And we have the scribes who came down from Jerusalem saying that he works through Beelzebub. The interpretation of Jesus depends a lot on our relationship to the truth and our willingness to let ourselves be enlightened or not by the revelation that God makes of himself. 

Thérèse, in her family, learned very early to know Jesus and to love him, and her love for Jesus was rooted in the contemplation of what Jesus did for her. And what Jesus did for her, she understands very early on that he did for all men, so much so that Thérèse's whole life will be a response to this action of God in Jesus. And, deep down, Thérèse does not act for go to Heaven: she acts because'she is going to Heaven. She is totally convinced that the salvation given to us is the work of God and, with all her soul, she consents to this work. She consents that her salvation depends solely on the action of Jesus. What she does, which seems insignificant to her compared to what Jesus does, it is in response, in recognition, in gratitude, in thanks that she does it. And she does it, not to go to Heaven – she leaves this question to Jesus –; everything she does, and in particular all her suffering that she offers to Jesus and all the sacrifices she makes for Jesus and all the long hours of prayer that she spends for Jesus, it is not so that she goes to Heaven, but so that all poor sinners go to Heaven. Thérèse is completely decentered from herself. 

I selected a few passages from letters she wrote to Marie du Sacré-Cœur or to Sister Agnès.

To Sister Agnès, she compares herself to a grain of sand and she compares her sister to Veronica who wipes the face of Jesus, this luminous face, I quote: 

The grain of sand wants to save souls at all costs... (not his own: ours) Jesus must grant him this grace; little Veronica, ask this grace from the luminous Face of Jesus!… Yes the Face of Jesus is luminous but if, in the midst of wounds and tears it is already so beautiful, what will it be like when we see it in Heaven? … Oh ! the sky... the Heaven... Yes, to one day see the Face of Jesus, to eternally contemplate the marvelous beauty of Jesus, the poor grain of sand desires to be despised on earth!...

Dear Lamb, ask Jesus that his grain of sand hurry to save many souls in a short time to fly more quickly towards his beloved Face!…

I suffer!… but the hope of the Fatherland gives me courage, soon we will be in Heaven… There there will be no more day or night but the Face of Jesus will bring an unequaled light!… LT95 to sister Agnes.

I note two things.

The first is that this Face of Jesus that Thérèse learned to contemplate from the Holy Face of Tours, this Face of Jesus that her sister Céline would like to paint, this Face of Jesus is the link between Heaven, the beautiful Heaven, the Homeland and this time of exile And to contemplate this Face of Jesus is already to enjoy something of Heaven. 

And the second thing I notice is that “the hope of the Fatherland gives me courage”. Yes, like a mountaineer tired on the path, and who raises his eyes towards the summit he wishes to reach, finds new enthusiasm to continue the path, we must often return to this contemplation of the Heaven towards which we are walking to resume our journey following Jesus. 

To Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart a little later, Thérèse said:

Now his face [of Jesus] is as if hidden from the eyes of mortals, but for us who understand his tears in this valley of exile, soon his resplendent face will be shown to us in the homeland and then there will be ecstasy, union eternal glory with our husband...

LT 117 to Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart

Yes, brothers and sisters, the greatness of our lives is that we were each created personally by God to share the life of God. And this is what gives meaning to our entire existence, this is what illuminates every moment. This is what should inform our choices. It is normal to act with a view to Heaven. It is normal to act with a view to this glory that God wants to give us, with which he wants to clothe us, because it is our vocation, because it is what God wants. And act, not to go to Heaven alone, but to act like Thérèse, in recognition and gratitude, and to cooperate in the work of Jesus so that all men are saved.