VATICAN - AVE MARIA by Mgr Luciano Alimandi -
Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - When will it be our turn to see the Risen Lord, to be in ecstasy in His presence? We can say with certainty: at the end of our days when our heart comes to its final beats of life, then, we will have the privilege and unspeakable grace of seeing Our Lord, of meeting Him on the horizon of the Other world, since He is the Gate (cfr. Jn 10, 9), the Passage from this world to the Father!
We will recognize Him and know His voice, if we have met him during our earthly pilgrimage. His Face and His Person will not be unknown to us, we will not hesitate to abandon ourselves entirely to Jesus, because that "moment", will be the culmination of countless acts of love and self-giving, which we will have left behind us, during the course of our life. This is truly the experience of the Apostles, who walked a path of growing trust in Him. Like them, we too listen to His Word, become familiar with His Presence, see the signs of His working in our midst, become His witnesses and invoke Him as Master and Lord.
We too like the first disciples, are led progressively into his Kingdom, through conversion, through becoming like little children (cfr. Mt 18, 3). The only difference between the first disciples and us is that we will see the Risen Lord only at the end of life, whereas they saw him during their life on earth. He will appear to us as we pass, as we are met by "the real Light, which gives light to everyone" (Jn. 1, 9). But precisely for this we will be called blessed because, even though we do not see Him, we believe in Him (cfr. Jn. 20, 29)! Faith in the Resurrection of Jesus is Heaven's greatest gift on this earth, since it enables us to enter into communion of life with the Risen Lord; how often the Lord said: " For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." (Jn 3,16). This is the faith which Jesus longs to find when he returns to earth; but will he find it? He does not say. In the Gospel he leaves this question unanswered (cfr. Lk 18, 8) and doing so he indicates that, to keep the faith is not easy and everything depends on being or not being authentic Christians. The Apostles also ran the risk of losing the faith. Although they lived with Jesus, saw his miracles, listened to his most profound teaching, at the moment of trial they were in danger of losing themselves. The Gospel speaks many times of their difficulty to understand Jesus. When he was arrested every one of them fled and left him alone (cfr. Mt. 26, 56), because they did not believe as they should have done.
We too, like the disciples of Emmaus, sometimes have "eyes unable to recognize Him" (Lk 24, 16), because we are "foolish and slow to believe" (Lk 24, 25). The Gospels of the Resurrection reveal the weakness of the faith of the first disciples and show that all Christians face the same struggle, the same doubts, the same resistance of the flesh against the spirit. In the human person in fact there exist two opposite realities: matter and spirit. One drags us towards things which are exterior, visible, earthly, the other draws us to things which are interior, invisible, heavenly.
Saint Paul, the great persecutor, converted by the Risen Lord, recalls that, according to our decisions in life we will become spiritual persons, or remain natural persons, unable to perceive what is supernatural, for example, the Resurrection of Christ: " The natural person has no room for the gifts of God's Spirit; to him they are folly; he cannot recognize them, because their value can be assessed only in the Spirit. The spiritual person, on the other hand, can assess the value of everything, and that person's value cannot be assessed by anybody else... But we are those who have the mind of Christ" (1Cor 2, 14…).
In order to have the mind of Christ, we must live according to the Spirit. Christ, in fact is God and God is Spirit (Jn. 4, 24). So as not to lose faith in the Risen Lord, indeed to increase our faith, we must flee sin and live in the grace of God. In other words, we will never keep our faith unless our life is in keeping with our belief. The entire Gospel message is about repentance and faith. "Repentance" and "faith" are inseparable: "repent and believe in the Gospel!" (Mk 1, 15). Proclaiming the faith only with our lips, will not help our sanctification. Behind the faith, to support the faith, by virtue of the faith ,our life must be conformed to that of Jesus; this, of course, is a journey. And it is only possible if we deny our materialist and carnal self, slave of "world-disordered bodily desires, disordered desires of the eyes pride in possession-is not from the Father but is from the world" (1Jn 2, 16), as Saint John teaches us. Our great little "I", will not cease to seek itself!
So, with the strength of the faith and total confidence in the Risen Christ, with the words "Jesus, I trust in you", proclaimed by our soul with all its strength, we will go out from ourselves towards the Lord who comes, towards the final encounter, when faith will be no longer necessary, because we will be transfigured in Him!
(Agenzia Fides 26/3/2008; righe 57, parole 906)