Homily (Reflection) for the Memorial of Saint Athanasius, B.D. (02nd May, 2019) on the Gospel and the Memorial
(Thursday of the Second Week of Easter)
Ps 33:2.9.17-20. (R. v.7);
Saint Athanasius was born at Alexandria about the year 296 of Christian parents and was educated under the eye of Alexander who later became his Bishop. He spent some time in the desert with St. Anthony. Athanasius was ordained a deacon in 319. He assisted his Bishop at the Council of Nicaea in 325, where his influence began to be felt. On Alexander’s death bed, he recommended St. Athanasius as his successor which paved way to his unanimous election as Patriarch in 326.
His refusal to tolerate the Arian heresy was the cause of many trials and persecutions for St. Athanasius. He spent seventeen of the forty-six years of his episcopate in exile. St. Athanasius died on May 2, 373.
Topic: Heaven or earth.
In today’s gospel, there is a comparison between two personalities, “The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all.” The gospel also reads, “The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.”
Whoever is of the earth cannot obey the Son unless he/she is transformed, cf. Heb 11:6. Saint Paul warns against being earthly, “Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient” (Col 3:5-6).
We often talk about what God prepared for His elects, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1Cor 2:9; cf. Is 64:3). The God in question is a God of justice, cf. Is 30:18. Just as the good things He has prepared for those who love Him cannot even be imagined, so terrible are the things He prepared for those who hate Him that they cannot also be imagined. Christ warns us that those who are earthly will be thrown into hell “where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched” (Mk 9:48). Imagine being under the torment of worm that never dies and fire that never quenches. The book of Revelation chapter 16 also tells us how terrible it will be. Please read Revelation chapter 16.
What do you work for – heaven or earth? Remember, each of them has a price tag. Consider what is best for you. Saint Athanasius worked for heaven as we have seen in his life history. Let us imitate him.
Bible Reading: Col 3:1-17; Eph 5:3-20.
Thought for today: Heaven and Hell are real.
Let us pray: Lord, help us work for heaven all the days of our lives – Amen.
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