Sunday, April 18, 2021

Totaliter Aliter

“Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” Luke 24:39

I have never seen a ghost and cannot imagine why any soul having been to heaven would ever want to come back to earth. Here is a funny story from Fr. Rainero Cantalamessa, who has served as the Preacher to the Papal Household since 1980, under Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis. 

“Two German monks enjoyed a great friendship over their years in the monastery. Their favorite topic of conversation was heaven. One, a gardener, believed that the most beautiful flowers would constantly bloom. The other, the organist, thought that heaven would be filled with the most beautiful melodies. They decided that the first to die would return a year after his death and tell the other what heaven was really like with a single word. If it was as he imagined he would say taliter (“exactly”); if it was as the other thought, he would say aliter (“the other one”).

The organist died suddenly, and his friend sent many prayers to heaven in the year that followed. On his death anniversary, he appeared to the gardener in his cell. “Taliter?” the gardener asked. After a moment of silence, he tried the other response. “Aliter?”

The organist breathed forth two words: “Totaliter Aliter! (Totally Other!)”

Indeed, I do not think we can ever come up with what the after life is like. Not even close. It is so totally beyond what we can imagine. And no one can ever describe it to us except Jesus but He didn’t, except to say, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26) The amazing thing about Christianity is we believe in a God who deigned to come down to earth to join us in this difficult human journey. He suffered immensely and His suffering was prophesied in several portions of the Bible. 

Jesus opened the minds of His disciples to understand the scriptures after He proved He was no ghost, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:46-48) We who believe in Christ are so privileged that God left us “love letters” to explain His plan and the wonderful place we have in it. We cannot keep this to ourselves, but should as He asks, preach it to the whole world! 

1 comment:

  1. More than we can ask or think or imagine, that's what he has prepared for those who love him. Great story.


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