Q: If Jesus was on this earth today, what do you think would be different about today’s society?
A: While I know that while you are framing your question around the contrast between Jesus’ walking the earth in human form 2 millennia ago and our carrying on the mission as his Church in the Body of Christ, we also recall that Jesus remains with us as he had promised to his disciples, “and behold I am with you until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20).
Jesus’ presence endures among us and also has provided us with the capacity to know his will and follow his commandments.
For instance, Jesus established St. Peter and St. Peter’s successors as the rock upon which he builds his church and that the fires of hell will never prevail against it. Jesus entrusted St. Peter with the keys of the kingdom, thereby providing St. Peter as well as his successors to speak on his behalf.
Pope Francis’ words of encouragement and correction in our contemporary era communicate to us whether or not we are following the commands Jesus has entrusted to the apostles. We recall that following Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection that we as faithful disciples had much to do to change a world which did not necessarily follow Jesus’ teachings.
Jesus entered a fallen world when he became man and our work is before us to share the salvation he has given us.
Q: If we are designed in God’s image, why then do we still continue to sin?
A: This is a very good question in that one would think that if we are made in God’s image and likeness we are incapable of any transgression.
However, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Paragraph 357) instructs us that “Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a human person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons. He is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and to love that no other creature can give in his stead.”
A word we should underline is the word “freely.”In other words, besides these enduring and magnificent gifts the Lord has given to each member of the human race, we have, in addition to those gifts, “free will.”
Our first parents, Adam and Eve, demonstrated to us that we are created to be in communion with God and when we break that relationship, we sin. You and I freely choose to follow God and that requires docility of faith as evidenced by Mary, the mother of God. Mary is proof positive that through the grace of God we possess the capacity to follow him unreservedly. We, of course, have enough evidence from historical figures throughout human history that we also possess the capacity to freely turn away from God.
Together, let us pray for an open heart to freely receive God’s grace in order that we may freely serve him and imitate the members of the communion of saints.
Q: Why is cremation against our religious beliefs?
A: Much development has occurred over the decades regarding creation and its place in the Funeral Rites of the Church, while our faith teaches us that cremation is not necessarily against our beliefs. It also teaches us that the cremains (what is left of the body after cremation) are sacred and should be treated accordingly.
Following the funeral liturgies and the process of cremation, the cremains must be placed in a sacred location such as a mausoleum or a columbium. Just as we respectfully bury our dead at the cemetery in graves, the cremains deserve the same respect. Placing the cremains on the fireplace mantel, in a locket, or any similar manner – may be the result of sentimental reasons – is not permitted. God has made us body and soul and both should be respected with dignity.
As we continue our summer pilgrimage, may you and I take time, even if it is during vacation, to celebrate our Lord’s presence from attending Mass to taking quiet time in prayer. May God bless you and your family.