Sunday, March 6, 2016

Homily for Today

My brothers and sisters, from one of today's readings, I call to your attention a very special Bible verse, "If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; everything has become new!" [2 Cor. 5:17] This one passage summarizes God's Divine Plan for man. Having its origin in the prophesies of the Old Testament, being fulfilled through Jesus Christ, it explains how we have become today's new creations of God.

I have come to the conclusion that very few Christians truly knows and understands what it means that if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. I am not denying that in faith, most Christians accept this as a doctrinal truth. What I am saying is that few understand what really happens through the Sacrament of Baptism during the process of our having died with Christ, our having been buried with Christ and our having risen as a new creation with Christ. [Rom. 6:4]

Allow me to explain myself. In the beginning, "the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being." [Gen. 2:7] In other words, God created a physical body, gave it a "human spirit" [Job 32:8; Prov. 18:14, 20:27; Ecc. 3:21; Eze. 11:19, 36:26; Zech. 12:1; Mal. 2:15; Mt. 26:41; Lk. 8:55; Jn. 3:6; Rom. 8:15; 1 Cor. 2:11] and it became a living soul. [Lk. 1:46-7; 1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 4:12] God created man with a soul, his self-consciousness, a physical body and a human spirit to sustain the life of the body. For a body without a (human) spirit is dead. [Jas. 2:26] As Jesus said, "It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless." [Jn. 6:63]

From the Book of Genesis, we also learn that God created man holy in nature in His likeness. [Gen. 1:26; 5:1] And God saw that all what He had made was good. [Gen. 1:31]

After God completed the creation of all things, He placed Adam in the Garden of Eden [Gen. 2:15] and commanded, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." [Gen. 2:16-7]

As we all know, Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating of the tree of knowledge and sin entered the world. At that moment, Satan became the "prince of the world" [Jn. 12:31] Adam and Eve lost their original nature of holiness in the likeness of God. In punishment for disobeying, God removed Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden [Gen. 3:23] and said, "You shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return." [Gen. 3:19]

Here is where we begin to discover the mystery of man's creation. When God said that man is dust and he shall return to dust, God meant that all the descendants of Adam would experience spiritual death, being deprived of the eternal beatific vision of God in His eternal Kingdom."

According to the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, "In virtue of its specific nature, the intellectual soul does not possess the body as a part of itself, but has only an aptitude for union with the body." (Extracted from: "The first part of 'Light Of Faith: The Compendium Of Theology' by St. Thomas Aquinas"; # 85. Unity of the possible intellect.)

The soul, formless in nature, needs a body, either physical or spiritual, to manifest itself. Both, the physical body of man, and his human spirit that gives life to the physical body, were stained by the original sin of Adam. As such, they were called to experience physical and spiritual death. Without a spiritual body that is free of sin, as defined by the Council of Trent, (C.C.C.) the soul of man is called to experience "the death of the soul" in the absence of the eternal beatific vision of God.

Now, when God saw the magnitude of what Satan had done by introducing sin into the world, immediately, God had another plan in motion. God did not desire to let man experience spiritual death in the absence of His eternal love and presence.

Beginning in the days of Jeremiah, followed by the days of Ezekiel, God promised to give man a new heart which is synonym to a new spiritual nature (or mind). Then, God promised to give man a new human spirit. Finally, God promised to place His Spirit within man to dwell within him. [Ezek. 11:19-20, 18:31, 36:26; Jer. 24:7, 31:33; Heb. 10:16] Finally, God promised to "sprinkle clean water upon us, and we shall be clean from all our uncleannesses." [Ezek. 36:25]

Now notice what I am saying here because this is very important. The soul of man cannot enjoy the eternal beatific vision as long as it possesses its spirit that has been stained by the original sin. In view of this, God promised to give man a new human spirit. Why? For the soul to continue to manifest itself in a new spiritual form after the death of the physical body. That is what the Sacrament of Baptism is all about. Unless we are born again, we have no life in us. "No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit." [Jn. 3:5] "What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is (human) spirit." [Jn. 3:5] In the Most Holy Name of Jesus, by the grace of the Heavenly Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit, during the Sacrament of Baptism, we received a newly created human spirit from the Holy Spirit.

Speaking of this marvellous gift of the human spirit, today's Second Reading from the Second Letter to the Corinthians says, "If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" [2 Cor. 5:17] Indeed, everything has become new because in Christ, over and above having received the indwelling Holy Spirit, we have received a new spiritual nature, a new human spirit for the soul, now free of original sin, to qualify in the inheritance of the Kingdom of God after physical death. "All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us." [2 Cor. 5:18-9]

My brothers and sisters, "our new creation is everything!" [Gal. 6:15; 2 Cor. 5:17] Our new human spirit, free of original sin through the Sacrament of Baptism, is a gift of God of the godly seed. [1 Jn. 3:9] As Jesus said in the Parable of the Weeds, [Mt. 13:24-30, 36-43] "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the Kingdom." [Mt. 13:37-8] "You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring Word of God." [1 Pet. 1:23] "This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God..." [Rom. 9:8]

Knowing this, you now understand why we are ambassadors for Christ. On behalf of Christ, God is making His appeal through us, to urge all to be reconciled to God. For our sake God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Christ we might become the righteousness of God.

My brothers and sisters, this week, as we reflect upon the Word of God that we have heard today, we should remind ourselves of the urgency for all to receive the Sacrament of Baptism so that they too may be reconciled with God. We should ask ourselves, "Do I know someone who is not baptized because of neglect?" If we do, as ambassadors for Christ, we have an obligation to spread the good news and to convince those around us, our loved ones, our friends, our co-workers, that it is urgent for them to be baptized. It is urgent that they receive the free gifts of God. It is urgent because should they die today or tomorrow without their new creation, their souls will be deprived of the eternal beatific vision of God in communion with all the angels and saints.

Throughout the centuries, Christians have worried about what happens to the babies who die without being baptized. Today, knowing that we are all entitled to a new creation, we should worry about what will happen to all the children and adults who die without having been baptized. May the grace of God touch them before it is too late!

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