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Fr. Hardon's Trip to India
My three weeks in Calcutta this January were the experience of a lifetime. They were the answer to years of prayer, since my first inspiration to enter the Society of Jesus was St. Francis Xavier. In his ten years in India, he converted and personally baptized over 100,000 natives. My hope was to follow in his footsteps.
What were my dominant impressions from the 20 days in India? They were mainly three:
The poverty of millions in India is beyond our comprehension. Among the lessons, however, which they can teach us is how secondary are all the passing things of space and time, compared with Reality, which is spiritual - indeed which is God. The Hindu term for the material world is maya "illusion". We know that this world is not illusion. But we can also become so enamored of the world in which we live as to forget that eternal life with God is our true destiny.
Christ's Death and Ours
Our present meditation will be on Christ's death and ours. We speak of imitating Christ and of following His example. We too seldom reflect on the fact that besides being born at Bethlehem, living His life at Nazareth, preaching and working miracles He died on the Cross.
What can we know from Christ's death on Calvary? Among many others, in fact a myriad of lessons, because this is a great mystery, are the following: that being human we are all going to die, that faith teaches us that death, Christ's and ours, is expiatory for sin, that death is not the end of life but the beginning of a new life; the gateway to eternity and that we should daily anticipate death by joining ourselves in spirit with the Sacrifice of the Mass.
Most people seldom think of death, and they try to keep their minds off the subject. Yet our forthcoming death, for each of us, is a fact that should not be ignored. It is too rich in meaning and too valuable in the religious life. Christ was perfect man. We sometimes take this to mean, as it does, that Christ's humanity during His visible stay on earth was all that ours should be. That is right. He was holy and chaste, He was obedient and poor, He loved and He was courageous, He was patient and merciful perfectly.
But Christ also died, Why? Because He was human. He therefore wants us to expect to die and not turn our minds away from what is inevitably going to be. Christ died in order to expiate sin. Faith tells us that, were it not for sin, death would not have entered the world. But once man sinned, he must die. Why then did Christ die? In order that by his death, He might redeem the world.
Yet we, too, are to die'? Yes. And why? In order that, with Christ, we also might cooperate in our own redemption and the salvation of mankind. Among the truths of our faith, none touches us all personally more intimately than the assurance that though we must die, death is not the end of life. How important this life seems!
We can touch and feel and smell and taste and see! Yes, yes. But all of this is soon due to end, and then real life will begin.
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