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The Kingdom of Heaven is like...


Jesus Christ describes the kingdom of heaven in many parables. In today’s Gospel we read that whoever discovers that kingdom should invest in it completely. For the kingdom of God is like a buried treasure, or like a “pearl of great price.” The person who discovers it should sell everything to purchase the land that has that “treasure buried in a field,” or sell everything to buy that “pearl of great price.”

We are called to invest in the kingdom of heaven, which is found in its maturing form substantially within the Catholic Church, for it is the Mystical Body of Christ that helps us to grow to eternity by the grace Jesus Christ pours out to us through the Church’s missionary efforts, sacraments, liturgies and services. Not to mention that the Church has preserved the Bible, the Sacred Scriptures, down through the centuries and has translated it into hundreds of different languages so that God’s saving truth and love can be accessed and applied to all the human family.

When we give of our time, talent and treasure to our parish and Archdiocese, as well as to other second collections, we are helping move the mission forward for the salvation of souls and the glory of God. Yet, this is not easy since, much like the early Church, we have challenges of faith such as the apostle Judas Iscariot betraying the Lord, St. Peter denying Christ three times, and then all the apostles, except John, and most of the disciples, except for Mary and two other women disciples, abandoning the Lord Jesus at his crucifixion.

It looked like a hopeless situation, but the Blessed Virgin Mary was at the foot of the cross, offering up her sorrow with Christ to the Father, with great hope and love for the redemption of souls of which Jesus’ suffering was winning for us, and all of mankind, if only we repent like St. Peter and the other faithful disciples. The Blessed Virgin Mary, of course, did not need to repent of any sin since she was Immaculate in her body and soul.

But this repentance comes at a cost, since the early church members were harassed and sometimes mercilessly persecuted for believing in the Risen Lord Jesus, even though those persecutors could not explain where the body of Jesus had gone to after the Resurrection.

Yet, being persecuted for the truth of God is very familiar to us since we see how in the Old Testament, for instance, the prophet Elijah had to stand up against the 450 false prophets of Baal. As well, we read in the Book of Judith: We should be grateful to the Lord our God, for putting us to the test, as he did our forefathers. Recall how he dealt with Abraham, and how he tried Isaac, and all that happened to Jacob in Syrian Mesopotamia while he was tending the flocks of Laban, his mother’s brother. Not for vengeance did the Lord put them in the crucible to try their hearts, nor has he done so with us. It is by way of admonition that he chastises those who are close to him. Judith 8:25-27

Jesus Christ himself was persecuted and reminded us frequently that we would be persecuted just as he was. Jesus even placed this truth in the Beatitudes – two times!

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:9-10.

It is so strange to me, and many other Christians and non-Christians, to hear that Jesus Christ was persecuted after all the good he was doing: curing the blind and the lame, multiplying food to feed the poor, forgiving sins and raising the dead to have a fresh start in life. Yet, some people sick with mortal sin and unrepentance see other humans as the problem, and not as a gift from God, made in God’s “image and likeness,” with inalienable dignity. Thus, authentic Christians are persecuted for standing up for human life.

One such person was Dr. Lejeune, a French Catholic doctor who researched the cause of Down Syndrome disorder and discovered it to find a cure. Unfortunately, many in the medical community and beyond, who were trying to rid society of the “weeds” who were deplorable in their sight, used his discovery to selectively abort babies.

Dr. Lejeune lobbied against pro-abortion laws and defended the sanctity of human life. In his own prophetic words: “The enemies of life know that to destroy Christian civilization, they must first destroy the family at its weakest point – the child. And among the weakest, they must choose the least protected of all – the child who has never been seen…”

Because of his valiant efforts to defend every human being, especially the most vulnerable based on the principle that God is the giver, sustainer and goal of every human life, he was persecuted. Still, Jesus Christ and his Church were there for him, and Pope John Paul II appointed him the first president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. After his death in 1994, Pope Francis declared him “venerable” on January 21, 2021.

Dr. Lejeune is definitely on his way to the fullness of the kingdom of heaven, and may already be there, but we will not know that for certain until a miracle in his name, after thorough investigation by the Church; and then another miracle, according to the protocol of the Church, has been scientifically verified. At this point, we can hope that he is on the way, and may al-ready be in the fullness of heaven because of the mercy of God through Christ in which he responded by loving God above all things, despite the persecutions he suffered for God’s truth.

We are called to make a generous investment in the Church and her mission despite the suffering and challenges that abound, because the grace of God abounds all the more for those within the kingdom of heaven.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Thomas McCabe


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