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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Sunday 32nd (C) in Ordinary Time

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 arrived. These people claim that there is no resurrection and they asked Jesus this question, «Master, in the Scripture Moses told us: ‘If anyone dies leaving a wife but no children, his brother must take the wife, and the child to be born will be regarded as the child of the deceased man’. Now, there were seven brothers; the first married a wife, but he died without children; and the second and the third took the wife; in fact all seven died leaving no children. Last of all the woman died. On the day of the resurrection, to which of them will the woman be wife? For the seven had her as wife».

And Jesus replied, «Taking husband or wife is proper to people of this world, but for those who are considered worthy of the world to come and of resurrection from the dead, there is no more marriage. Besides, they cannot die for they are like the angels. They too are sons and daughters of God because they are born of the resurrection. Yes, the dead will be raised, and even Moses implied it in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. For he is God of the living and not of the dead, and for 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).