32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (10 November 2019)
2 Macc 7:1-2,9-14; 2 Thes 2:16-3:5; Lk 20:27-38
The readings this week force us to contemplate on what it is we hope for? What is the hope that sustains us in a world where there is often cruelty, injustice and evil?
The first reading is taken from the first book of the Maccabees. The book is historical and covers the period from 175BC to 130BC, when Judaea was under Greek rule and there was great pressure for the Jews to Hellenize and become assimilated with their colonial masters. This pressure particularly took the form of forcing the Jews to abandon their religious beliefs and practices. The first reading tells of one particularly brutal encounter where a family of seven brothers was tortured with a view to making them eat pork. The law forbade the Jews from eating pork. But which would prevail: obedience to the command of the invisible God or bowing to the edict of the very visible but evil king? Brother after brother chose earthly death over disobeying the law of the eternal God; and each proclaimed their belief in the resurrection. To them, death was just a release from the finite life of this world into eternal life with God.
In the second reading, St Paul urges us to take comfort and strength in God’s promises. He calls on us to pray for strength to overcome the pain of meeting those who may be closed to God and who are bigoted or evil. God comforts and guards us in such times. He is faithful and will not abandon us. He will turn our hearts toward him that we may live this life with love and fortitude. Indeed, we are challenged to live this life with the same certain hope as the Maccabees so that we also will have eternity with God when our days on this Earth ends. Thus, our best chance to overcome the challenges of this world is to pray for God’s strength and guidance.
In the Gospel, Jesus teaches about the resurrection when tested by the Sadducees, a Jewish sect that did not believe in the resurrection. They thought they had the perfect argument against the resurrection: imagine a woman who married seven brothers in this life. To whom would she be wedded in the resurrection? But they had framed the question failing to understand that the resurrection brings us to eternity in God’s company. Jesus explained to them that when we are resurrected we will never die; this is because our sins will have been washed clean and where there is no sin, death has no power. Jesus by his death has destroyed death’s hold over us. Instead when we are resurrected, we are reborn as children of God and though we will be in the company of all the angels and the saints, it is to God we will belong.
Our faith is founded on the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. When He died, He destroyed sin because He carried the burden of all sin upon His Cross. And when He rose from the dead, He conquered death, which had no power over Him, who is the Sinless One. We are called to live our lives each day in the certain conviction that Jesus, by His resurrection, has won for us our resurrection. He leads the way to eternity for us. And if we are truly convicted in this belief, then the readings tells us we will face every struggle with equanimity because we know that nothing in this life can keep us from the prize that awaits us in the Resurrection.
Some points for reflection as you read the passages:
- What was it that each of the brothers were certain about when asked to defy the Word of God by eating the pig’s flesh? Are you just as certain of this?
- What was St Paul certain about what the Lord would do for him? How do you think your life would change if you were equally certain about this?
- What does Jesus say will happen to us when we are resurrected? How would a deep conviction about this affect the way you approach difficulties in this life?