11 November 2007, XXXII Sunday of the Year

2Mc 7:1-2, 9-14; 2 Thes 2:16-3:5; Lk 20:27-38.

The theme given to us today is that of resurrection.  It is to build our faith in Jesus who rose from the dead.  That is why the Readings of today give us this theme to make us understand the Jesus is still with us alive and we too will live in God.

In the first reading
from 2 Maccabees, we heard of the martyrdom of the mother and her seven sons. We heard that each and everyone of them were willing to die for the Law of Moses because they believed that at the last trumpet, the King of the universe would raise them up to an everlasting life. When the fourth brother was about to die, he said, “One cannot but choose to die at the hands of mortals and to cherish the hope God gives of being raised again by him. But for you there will be no resurrection to life!”

Today’s Second Reading from the Second Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians opens our eyes to the fact that the Lord strengthens our hearts in every good work and word.
We learn that through prayer, the word and the work of the Lord that is manifested through us rapidly spreads so God may be glorified everywhere.

The Gospel of today tells us the fictitious story of seven brothers marrying one woman and their relation in the other life.

A Few words about the Sadducees are in order. The Sadducees were very wealthy, nearly all were priests, they were the governing class, they accepted only the written law of the Old Testament, they particularly stressed the Law of Moses, they invested nothing in the prophetic books, they did not believe in the resurrection from the dead, angels or spirits. They believed that for better or for worse man operated with unrestricted free will. They did not believe in the coming of a Messiah.

The Sadducees wanted a very simple and structured predictable life. They wanted things neat and orderly. They wanted no surprises. They wanted nothing left to speculation. They wanted the future to be predictable and they did not want to have to use their imaginations to wrestle with the unknown.  To be blunt, their question in the Gospel is not, in the least, sincere and the example that they use regarding the 7 brothers is purposely meant to sound outrageously silly in order to ridicule a belief in the resurrection.  In fact, they never sincerely expected a response from Jesus. They posed an unbelievable example, which to the reader of the Gospel should sound so belittling that the tone should clearly radiate sarcasm and lampoon and were certain that Jesus will be lost.

When Jesus responds in a rational, giving them a well thought out explanation using the very figure that they had invoked, namely, Moses.  Jesus tells them that one must not think of heaven in terms of this earth. Heaven will be quite different. We will be quite different. In fact, the Kingdom of God here on earth as well as the new and eternal Jerusalem in Heaven is both very different than our expectations according to Jesus.

In other words, in the resurrection, when we are transformed at the twinkle of an eye, just like the angels of God, we will receive spiritual bodies that are incorruptible. In this physical world, God has instituted the Sacrament of marriage [Gen 2:24] and procreation [Gen. 3:16] for mankind to multiply and spread all over the earth. But once in Heaven, there will be no more procreation.

In eternal life, those who have persevered to the end, they shall all enjoy the fullness of life as it was meant to be enjoyed. They shall be counted among the living, all sharing the same Father, the living God.

This new life is attained in Jesus.  Every time food is given to the hungry, a drink is given to the thirsty, a welcome is given to the stranger, clothing is given to the naked, care is given to the ill, a visit is made to the lonely, and it is done to Jesus himself. The presence of Jesus is the knowledge of the resurrection.

To attain this Resurrection, we have to be with Jesus and experience his life. Whoever wishes to come after me must deny self, take up his cross and follow me. Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Fathers glory with the holy angels. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.  Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.

Anecdote: Meaning of life.

A story is told by Robert Fulghum, a Unitarian minister, about a seminar he once attended in Greece. On the last day of the conference, the discussion leader walked over to the bright light of an open window and looked out. Then he asked if there were any questions. Fulghum laughingly asked him what the meaning of life was. Everyone in attendance laughed and stirred to leave. However, the leader held up his hand to ask for silence and then responded “I will answer your question.” He took his wallet out of his pocket and removed a small round mirror about the size of a quarter. Then he explained “When I was a small child during World War II, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place. I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept the largest piece- this one. And by scratching it on a stone, I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun could never shine. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places that I could find. I kept the little mirror, and as I grew up, I would take it out at idle moments and continue the challenge of the game.

As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child’s game, but a metaphor of what I could do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of the light. But light – be it truth or understanding or knowledge – is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it. I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have, I can reflect light into the dark places of this world – into the dark places of human hearts – and change some things in some people. Perhaps others seeing it happen will do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.”

Do we reflect the light of Christ into the darkness of other people’s lives and bring them to the resurrection in him.



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