Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.”
How can God’s glory be revealed in death? The answer is not a simple one. If we had only one word to explain this, it would have to be by our fidelity. Faithfulness is highly valued by our Lord. It does matter how often you fall; but what matters most is that you get back up! Peter was faithful to the end.
What drove St. Paul to appeal his case to Caesar, the Roman Emperor? Was it a desire to live? Hardly! He knew his time had come, his hour had arrived. Then what drove him? In one word, it was Christ! Paul wanted to be the first to speak to the head of the Roman Empire and preach the Good News. He wanted to be the first and he was; and it cost him his life.
Two days ago, a young, beautiful and vibrant young lady, Anna Basso, passed from this world to the next. Since 2009 she had been battling cancer. Her passion came to an end on Wednesday, June 8th. I first met Anna at a freshmen retreat. We talked a lot. She had just discovered her illness. She had doubts and fears. But she also had her faith. Yesterday, I was given the opportunity to speak to over 200 of her peers gathered together to remember her life. I heard many reflections and comments. I knew that once I got to the podium, I would need to address their inner questions – the questions they would never ask in public, and the questions they thought could never be answered. I wanted to avoid falling into the temptation of using clichés or irrelevant imagery. I knew what they wanted to hear. They wanted to know why? The answers could only come from our Lord - his love story, and our Catholic faith. I was glad that many came up to me and thanked me for my words. In end, I said the following: Anna died the same way our Lord died – young, innocent, beautiful and loving. This is our story and it repeats itself over and over again. The Father did not spare his only son from death. In fact, he gave him a harsh death. Nothing in this world happens without the Father’s knowledge. Nothing! His Son was stripped of all his clothes, his flesh and from his dignity. He was beaten beyond recognition and put to death in a horrific masquerade of justice. This story repeats itself, even today. It will always be the young, the innocent, the most beautiful and the most loving souls that enter first into God’s glory. Why do the good have to die, and often die young? The answer is revealed in Christ’s desire to save all of us. His death has had an impact in our lives and in the lives of billions! The death of a young person has a strong effect on others, especially upon their peers. If Anna could say something right now to all of us, I believe in my heart she would say two things:
First, It was all worthwhile. Life is worth living: to live, to laugh, to see and to meet you all was all worth it! Second, live your life without wasting a single second of it. Do not sin. Do not hold on to grudges, resentment, anger and lies. It’s time to stop holding on to all these things that weigh us down. Let go today and you will fly higher than the birds! Let go and you will live life on high, above the clouds and sky. You will experience Heaven on earth and see the face of God.
So tonight, go dancing! And while you dance just think about something you have never thought about before. That tonight you’re just not dancing in some night club, you are dancing in the Universe! Am I wrong? Or did you never think of it like that before? If you get what I am saying, then you’re beginning to see the bigger picture. It’s time to see the bigger picture!
He is The One that makes life worth living. The good may die just as brutally as the bad. But the ending will be completely different.
Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Follow me.” He said the same to Anna. He will say the same to me and to you. And it will be worth it!