These are days of life and death. In our spiritual lives, we are celebrating the new life of Our Lord Jesus Christ upon his resurrection from the tomb. And we are invited to celebrate the fact that we, too, have been born again of water and the Holy Spirit in the sacraments of baptism and confirmation. And then we pick up our newspapers or switch on our television sets, and we see the awful thing that happened at Virginia Tech university, where a madman shot and killed some 33 people and wounded another 20 or so before taking his own disturbed life. And some of us are aware that these two dates, April 16 and 17, are the 60th anniversaries of the two great explosions of two ships in the harbor of Texas City, Texas, which caused the deaths of over 500 people in 1947.
You and I were born physically alive, but spiritually dead. We died in Adam, because by his sin, he shut off for all his descendants the wellsprings of divine grace, which is eternal life. By means of a special gift of God, three persons that we know of were born in the state of grace and thus spiritually alive and well. They are Our Lord, His Blessed Mother, and Saint John the Baptist. They are the only ones whose birthdays we celebrate in the liturgical calendar. December 25, September 8, and June 24.
By being born into this world, we are destined to die physically. But by the sacrament of baptism, we receive spiritual, that is, eternal life. And provided we don’t throw that life away by mortal sin, we shall live that life throughout this earthly existence of ours and then on into eternity. That is what Jesus meant when he told the member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, Nicodemus, that one must be born again by water and the Holy Spirit.
Death sometimes comes very suddenly. Those people who died in the Texas City explosions probably never knew what was going on in the split second when the enormous release of destructive energy from the exploding ships struck them and snuffed out their lives. And the teachers and students in Blacksburg, Virginia, had very little time to think between the moment when the gunman entered their dorm room or their classrooms and the moment he began shooting them. Let us pray for them and their families who are left to mourn their loss. Let us hope that God finds them worthy of heaven after their brief lives on earth. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.