"Brothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory" (Colossians 3:1-4).
These familiar Scriptures, which were read at the Easter Sunday Mass, have special meaning for me. My wife became a diabetic after the birth of our first son. When she was 37, and our kids were 13 and 15, she went into the hospital to be treated for a broken ankle that wasn't healing and just a general weakness in her body. While in the hospital, she had a severe insulin reaction and went into a coma.
During the two weeks she was in a coma, I was certain God was going to heal her and she would be OK. In many ways those two weeks were the hardest two weeks of my life. Yet during those weeks, I was also strengthened by a great sense of God's love for my wife and me. It kept me peaceful and positive and, surprisingly, it was a time when many opportunities to share my faith occurred, including a Jewish women at the hospital and my boss at work (who later said he was inspired by my witness in the midst of adversity to commit his life more deeply to Christ).
After 14 days in a coma, one morning I got a call from the hospital saying my wife was failing fast, her vital signs were shutting down, and I needed to come immediately to the hospital. After receiving that call, I got on my knees and turned to the Lord, saying, "What's going on. I thought you were going to heal her." At my bedside was a pocket sized New Testament, the "Good News for Modern Man" translation. I reached over and opened the little Bible. The Scripture passage I opened to was Colossians 3:1-4, which said,
You have been raised to life with Christ. Now set your heart on what is in heaven, where Christ rules at God's right side. Think about what is up there, not about what is here on earth. You died, which means that your life is hidden with Christ, who sits beside God. Christ gives meaning to your life, and when he appears, you will also appear with him in glory.
As I read these words, I heard the Lord speak to me deep within my soul, "Your wife has been raised to life with Christ." At that moment, I understood that the Lord had intended all along to give my wife the ultimate healing, which comes with death and being raised to life in him.
Although my wife's death, and the time after it, was difficult for me and my children; nevertheless, I was comforted and strengthened by the knowledge that my wife had achieved what she was created for — eternal life with Christ.
All of us are on a journey as Catholic men, and yes that journey will include suffering and even death. No matter what may be going on in your life or your family's life, there is one common denominator for each of us who are faithful to the Lord. We too will be "raised to life with Christ." So let's be encouraged and take St. Paul's God-inspired advice to us to "set your heart on what is in heaven, where Christ rules at God's right side. Think about what is up there, not about what is here on earth." Why is this so important? It is because "Christ gives meaning to your life, and when he appears, you will also appear with him in glory."
May God richly bless each of you and your families during this grace-filled Easter Season, when we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord — a foreshadowing of our own resurrection to new life in him.