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Homily – 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C
2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14
2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5
Luke 20:27-38
November 10, 2013

 

The Resurrection is a central mystery of our faith.  The Resurrection is essential to who we are as Christians.  At Easter we proclaim “Jesus Christ is Risen today.”

But what does the Resurrection really mean for us?

The Sadducees do not believe in the Resurrection.  They said they couldn’t find it in the five books of Moses that form the Torah.  At the end of today’s gospel Jesus does point out that it is in the Torah.  At the burning bush, God is identified as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Our God is a god of the living, not the dead.  So this implies a resurrection.

Yes, they come to Jesus with a question of what the Resurrection will be like.  We should ask why, if they don’t believe in the Resurrection, they would ask what it will be like.

Two thoughts here.  First they might be trying to trap Jesus or they might be trying to show how there can’t be a Resurrection.  They figure if there were a resurrection, life would just continue as is, and the woman would have seven husbands.  And having children as heirs won’t be important because we would live on.  So, to them the idea of a resurrection would seem absurd.

There lies the problem.  What is the Resurrection like?  We believe in it.  We know we will be with God in Heaven.  That is what we know for sure.  The Book of Revelation tells us about John’s visions of Heaven but they can be difficult to interpret.

Sometimes we talk about what Heaven will be like.  Such conversations generally center on having our favorite things.  Would that mean we would all have our own Heaven because each of us has different favorite things?

No, there is one Heaven and it isn’t set up the way we would make it be.  It isn’t “have it your way” in Heaven.  Heaven is what God calls it to be.

When I took a class in seminary about death, Heaven, hell, and Purgatory, we read a book written in the late 1970’s by Fr. Joseph Ratzinger (who became Bishop Ratzinger à Cardinal Ratzinger à Pope Benedict XVI).  There was an extensive section on Heaven where he discussed different thoughts about Heaven.  Yes, we try to put Heaven in earthly terms.  To have a conversation about Heaven, we have to talk about in by comparing it to what we experienced in this world.  In his book, he says the one thing we know about Heaven is that we will be with God.  What more can we ask for?

It’s called faith.

Our faith in the Resurrection should change the way we look at things.  If there is no resurrection, then won’t this world be all that matters.  Shouldn’t we do everything we can to stay alive?

That’s not what we heard in Maccabees.  The people are facing a severe persecution.  They are told that they must give up their god to worship the way the emperor dictates.

They refuse.  So they are tortured.  To stop the torture, they could have just renounced their faith.  They did not.

Why?

Because their faith was important to them.  They knew they faced an eternity with God.  They knew the miserable torture was nothing compared to what God had to offer.  So, they kept their faith over earthly ways.

How would we respond to torture and persecution?  Of course, it might seem we don’t have to worry about such things but there are places in the world where even today, people are persecuted and martyred for our faith.

In the United States we do not face extreme persecution.  But we are challenged in trying to live out our faith.  Right now our bishops are challenging the President’s health care requirements that are in conflict with our faith.

Some people say it isn’t that important.  Why bother fighting?  The answer is because Jesus stood up for us on the Cross.  We must be willing to stand up for Jesus.

We come here today because we believe in the Resurrection.  What does it mean to you?  What does it motivate you to do differently?

 

 

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