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Browsing Fr. Joel Hastings

Jesus' last name, communion in heaven, and "offering it up"

Did Jesus have a last name?

     We do not think of Jesus having had a last name in the way that people in many cultures of our time typically have a first, middle, and last name. In Jesus’ time, the identifying of one by “surname,” as we can call it (or “family name,” as we might also think of it), was usually in reference to one’s father.  Thus, we have Jesus, son of Joseph. Or to give other examples: Simon, son of John (or sometimes translated Jonah); James, son of Zebedee; etc. In addition, identification might be linked to a place – such as saying “Jesus of Nazareth,” or “Joseph of Arimathea.” 

Can saints receive holy communion in heaven?

     I love this question, as it provides a moment to share the simple teaching about what heaven really is.  Those who are in heaven are living perfect love and friendship with God and all others in heaven (angels and saints). There is nothing lacking in this relationship, as all are fully living the life that God intended for us in union with Him. To put it simply, Heaven is holy communion. In other words, those who are in heaven are living the fullness of what you and I on earth are invited to share as a “foretaste” of heaven each and every time we worthily receive holy communion. This is why Mass is at the very center of our living of the faith: it is where we are able to receive heaven while here on earth, so as to both grant us the gift of the life of heaven already (once more, as a foretaste of its fullness) and so that we can be helped in living every moment of this life in holy communion, through the gift of communion given us at Mass, which is our “source and summit.”

How does “offering it up” help the poor souls?

     When we offer penances (or simply accept the sufferings and difficulties that come about in our lives), in a real way we are able to “make up for what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ,” as St. Paul say in Colossians 1:24. Understand that Paul’s words do not mean that Jesus’ cross was in any manner lacking in power to save us. Instead, his point is that our own acceptance of sufferings unites us even more to Jesus, allowing the power of His sufferings to be even more fruitful in us and in those for whom we willingly offer up our sufferings.

     Practically speaking, when we are placed in a moment of suffering, our willing acceptance of such suffering has real power to aid us or others in being purified of our sins and/or any worldly attachments that separate us from Jesus Christ. Our willing acceptance brings us into greater union with Jesus in His sufferings, that serve as an unblemished offering to the Father. The poor souls that are in purgatory, because they are not yet perfectly pure so as to be received into heaven, are aided by others’ offerings of suffering on their behalf to be released from attachments in a like manner as to how one person sacrificing for another on earth is able to aid the other. When I give up a part of a meal so to share it with another, the one who receives that share which I gave up is able to be nourished in a way that is otherwise not available to them. So too – our sufferings on behalf of other souls can be applied in such a way that they are aided by what otherwise is not available to them – extending as it is the fruits of the cross, that we ourselves are able to more fully embrace by our acceptance of sufferings.

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