The Catholic Defender: The Catholic Priest and the Raising of the Dead
In the New Testament, ordinarily when we hear of the raising of the dead, we think of when Jesus literally raised Lazarus after four days being in the grave:
"Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father,* I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice,* “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” John 11:39-44
Or maybe Luke 8:49-56
"While he was still speaking, someone from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.” On hearing this, Jesus answered him, “Do not be afraid; just have faith and she will be saved.” When he arrived at the house he allowed no one to enter with him except Peter and John and James, and the child’s father and mother. All were weeping and mourning for her, when he said, “Do not weep any longer, for she is not dead, but sleeping.” And they ridiculed him, because they knew that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and called to her, “Child, arise!” Her breath returned and she immediately arose. He then directed that she should be given something to eat. Her parents were astounded, and he instructed them to tell no one what had happened."
With examples like these it is no small wonder that Jesus or His Apostles are mentioned raising the dead literally. How wonderful that is when this happens. Jesus makes it clear that He has the power over death and he has the means to use this power. Consider the following verses:
John 11:25 - Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
John 5:21 - "For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes."
John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
Matthew 10:7-8 - As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.
There are so many examples of Jesus proclaiming His authority to raise the dead through His Church. We have seen it. I have a question here, what caused death to enter the world? Is is the consequence due to Original Sin.
What was the major reason of why Jesus came and died for the human raise? To forgive sin so that we do not have to die in sin.
Jesus said this to His Apostles:
"[Jesus] said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” John 20:21-23
This is key to the Mission Jesus gives to the Catholic Church. Consider the sin that causes death:
"Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy,* drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:19:21
"We know that the law is good, provided that one uses it as law, with the understanding that law is meant not for a righteous person but for the lawless and unruly, the godless and sinful, the unholy and profane, those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, the unchaste, sodomites,* kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is opposed to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted." 1 Timothy 1:8-11
"If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly." 1 John 5:16-17
Notice that St. John presents there is a difference from sin that are "not deadly" - Venial sins and those sins he called the "deadly sin" - Mortal sins. For Venial sins we should pray to God to obtain life. Receiving the Eucharist will forgive the non-deadly sin. I still think we should confess all known sin, but St. John tells us the need to pray for ones forgiveness for the non-deadly sin.
Deadly sin is a different matter all together. St. Paul notes that those sins that are mortal will cast a soul into hell. Those who die in the state of mortal sin will not inherit the Kingdom of God. St. John does not discuss deadly sin in this passage, the Virgin Mary at Fatima warns that one unrepentant mortal sin can cast a person into everlasting hell. That is serious. There is good news that the sinner can redeem themselves.
Consider James 5:19-20 - "My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." The Prodigal Son returns home (Luke 15:111:31)
John 3:16 reminds us, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."
St. Luke, the Doctor at Calvary, states, “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance."
This is great news and the whole reason for Easter! Jesus is the Resurrection and the life! His Church has the Mission to go to the world and set the captives free, those in Mortal sin can be set free through the grace offered in the Sacraments.
St. Paul refers to John 20:23 as the "Ministry of Reconciliation":
"Consequently,* from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer. So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."
Unfortunately, the show "The Walking Dead" is not so far off, true, we are not dealing with zombies, but the effect of Mortal sin without penance and repentance is far worse, Hell is not a party.
As Catholic, we should go to Confession often:
Don't wait until the last minute to prepare especially if you have committed Mortal Sin.
Pray for final repentance - the State of Grace
Rosary/Sacred Heart, the First Five Saturdays and other important Catholic Devotions
Don't waste time, avoid Sloth - time counts - tic-toc-tic-toc
Acts of charity - works and prayer
One Confession is worth more than a hundred exorcisms. Do not conceal your sins in the Confessional. Proverbs 28:13 states, "Those who conceal their sins do not prosper, but those who confess and forsake them obtain mercy". There are four important steps to Reconciliation with God through His Church:
Contrition - sorrow for sin
Confession - do not conceal
The Confession goes as follows:
Enter the Confession, make the decision to go
Begin your Confession
Confess your sins giving a good examination of conscience
Say an Act of Contrition
Receive Absolution - This is important, when we die, this mercy seat will carry God's Judgement
The Priest giving Absolution will state:
"God, the Father of mercies through the death and resurrection of His Son has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins: Through the Ministry of the Church may God give pardon and peace and I absolve your sins in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit".
When you receive absolution from the Catholic priest, Jesus ratifies this in Heaven. On the Day of Judgement your Confessions will cover your soul as you stand before Jesus Christ to face His Mercy. Know this as a warning: If you choose not to confess your sin, you will stand before the Lord's Justice which is as eternal as His Mercy. To hear this should send thrills up your spine. This is what we all should hear if we are in the State of Grace.