Humanity’s Two Enemies Conquered!

On April 3rd of last year, Fr. Jim Shaver had passed away.  Later this next week, we will be celebrating the first anniversary of his passing.  Many of you witnessed for the first time the funeral of a priest, over which our bishop presides and many brother priests from around the diocese concelebrate.  While we were saddened by Fr. Jim’s passing, there was also a joyful hope that Fr. Jim would soon experience the victory that Jesus won during the spiritual battle during the first Easter Triduum of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection.  That victory was over two of humanity’s worst enemies, sin and death: 1) sin that destroys the soul and 2) death that destroys the body.  

Because Fr. Jim had known and served God’s people in Jackson for 20 years, many families requested him to celebrate their funerals. With his absence however, I have celebrated more funerals in this past year than over any other in the nearly ten years that I have been the pastor here at St. John.  More than ever, I am reminded how the full purpose of our lives is ultimately not found on this side of reality, but in the fulfillment of all desire that is found to where Fr. Jim and so many of our loved ones have “passed over.”  As Jesus promised, “Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (Jn 11:25-26).  

What made that immortality possible was the spiritual war that Jesus fought against the ruler of this world, a war that culminated during this Holy Week two millennia ago, a war the outcome of which has already been definitively determined with Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead, but a war that will entail major skirmishes until all of us reach the shores of our heavenly homeland.  Some of those battles with powers and principalities since the Resurrection have been ugly and horrific; some are being fought in our present day, particularly with the assaults against marriage and family; and there will be more.  But make no mistake that the war has been won!

We proclaim on Easter Day:  Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat!  Christ conquers! Christ reigns! Christ commands!  

At this weekend’s Easter Vigil on Saturday night, there will be eleven people who will claim that victory for themselves personally.  Five elect will receive the sacrament of Baptism:  1) Jasmine Bowser, 2) Orion Dauter, 3) Steve Gawlik, 4) Ali Harding, and 5) Kali Howe.  Seven other candidates will receive Confirmation and Eucharist:  1) Barbara Bench, 2) Bonny Livernois, 3) Stephanie Lowe, 4) Ruth Mears, 5) Reagan Voetberg, and 6) Jason Gwaltney

These eleven will join the ranks of the Church Militant, who at the dawn of their earthly lives will join Fr. Jim and all of the Church Triumphant by the power of Jesus’ Paschal Mystery that the Church perpetuates through the sacraments.  I’ll be sharing some of their stories during my homily.  Please wish them congratulations when you see them at Mass!

In the Power of the Paschal Mystery,

Fr. Chas