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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
1st Reading (2Macc 7:1-2.9-14): It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested and tortured with whips and scourges by the king, to force them to eat pork in violation of God's law. One of the brothers, speaking for the others, said: «What do you expect to achieve by questioning us? We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors». At the point of death he said: «You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever. It is for his laws that we are dying». After him the third suffered their cruel sport. He put out his tongue at once when told to do so, and bravely held out his hands, as he spoke these noble words: «It was from Heaven that I received these; for the sake of his laws I disdain them; from him I hope to receive them again».

Even the king and his attendants marveled at the young man's courage, because he regarded his sufferings as nothing. After he had died, they tortured and maltreated the fourth brother in the same way. When he was near death, he said, «It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up by him; but for you, there will be no resurrection to life».
Responsorial Psalm: 16
R/. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Hear, o Lord, a just suit; attend to my outcry; hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.

My steps have been steadfast in your paths, my feet have not faltered. I call upon you, for you will answer me. O God; incline your ear to me; hear my word.

Keep me as the apple of your eye, hide me in the shadow of your wings. But I in justice shall behold your face; on waking I shall be content in your presence.
2nd Reading (2Thess 2:16—3:5): Brothers and sisters: May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word. Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us, so that the word of the Lord may speed forward and be glorified, as it did among you, and that we may be delivered from perverse and wicked people, for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. We are confident of you in the Lord that what we instruct you, you are doing and will continue to do. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ.
Versicle before the Gospel (Rev 1:5.6): Alleluia. Jesus Christ is the firstborn of the dead; to him be glory and power, forever and ever. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Lk 20:27-38): Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to him, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, ‘If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.”

Jesus said to them, "The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called out 'Lord, ' the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."

«He is God of the living and not of the dead, and for him all are alive»

Fr. Ramon SÀRRIAS i Ribalta (Andorra la Vella, Andorra)

Today, Jesus makes it clear his claim about resurrection and eternal life. Sadducees doubted, or even worse, they ridiculed the belief in eternal life after death, which was defended —instead— by the Pharisees and we also defend it.

The question the Sadducees asked to Jesus «On the day of the resurrection, to which of them will the woman be wife? For the seven had her as wife?» (Lk 20:33) let us catch sight of a possessive sort of juridical mindset, demanding proprietary rights over a person. Furthermore, the trap set up for Jesus raises an equivocal still existing today: imagining eternal life as an extension, after death, of the earthen existence. Heaven would, thus, consist of the transposition of the beautiful things we now enjoy.

To believe in eternal life is one thing, but to imagine what it will be like is another thing altogether different. When a mystery is not surrounded by respect and discretion, it risks being trivialized by curiosity and, finally, ridiculed.

Jesus' answer has two parts. In the first one, He tries to make clear that the marriage institution has no reason to be in the other life: «those who are considered worthy of the world to come and of resurrection from the dead, there is no more marriage» (Lk 20:35). What does persists and reaches its maximum fullness is whatever we have sowed in this world as far as authentic love, friendship, fraternity, justice and truth... are concerned.

The second part of the answer leaves two certitudes with us: «For he is God of the living and not of the dead» (Lk 20:38). To trust in this God means to realize we are meant to be alive. And being alive consists of being with Him in a continuous manner, forever. Furthermore, «and for him all are alive» (Lk 20:38): God is the source of life. The believer, submerged in God through the Baptism, has been able to escape forever from the clutches of death. «Love becomes an accomplished fact, if it is included in a love that truly provides eternity» (Benedict XVI).

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • "(Christ) By dying he submitted to the laws of death, but by rising he abolished them. So he put an end to the hold of death. From being eternal, he made it temporal." (Saint Leo the Great)

  • "We are on a journey, on a pilgrimage toward the fullness of life, and that fullness of life is what illumines our journey!" (Francis)

  • "To be a witness to Christ is to be a "witness to his Resurrection" (Acts 1:22), to "[have eaten and drunk] with him after he rose from the dead" (Acts 10:41). Encounters with the risen Christ characterize the Christian hope of resurrection. We shall rise like Christ, with him, and through him." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 995)