Homily Thirty-second Sunday Year C Life after death

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Homily: Thirty-second Sunday Year C

Reading 1: Here we have in the Old Testament the belief of life after death. What motivated the seven brothers and the valiant mother to fidelity to God over the fear of death? It was the hope of life beyond death. But even greater than just life after death but life with God eternally.

Their belief and relationship with God had made such a difference in their lives, individually and as a family that nothing was more important to them. Remaining true and faithful to God who loved them so much was more important than avoiding physical death through torture. This takes courage and commitment.

What the pagan king was offering them was a temporary reprieve from an inevitable moment. What their faith in God was offering them was eternal life of true joy and happiness. To choose what the king was offering them would lead to eternal alienation from God. To choose what God was offering was eternal life with God.

Once God becomes the most important relationship; once God is truly God in my life; once I realize that in God is my all, then even physical death and torture will not sway me from being true to God. The reality of eternal life with God versus the fleeting life on earth, as pleasing as it may be, becomes the greater good my will chooses.

Gospel: The Sadducees were a privileged class among the religious leadership of Jesus’ day. They were more in line with satisfying the Roman authorities in order to keep their privileged status than fidelity to the Covenant. On the other hand, the Pharisees saw their subjugation under Rome as something to be tolerated even though they hated it.

The Sadducees did not believe in angels or life after death; the Pharisees did. Jesus did. While the Pharisees had not been able to entrap Jesus and discredit him, the Sadducees thought they could. They thought they would propose an extreme situation that would be impossible to answer.
The Sadducees were asking the wrong question for the wrong reason. They were not interested in the truth, because they did not believe in the resurrection and life eternal.

Jesus knew their hearts and their motive. He spoke the truth. The issue is not whose wife she would be but that she will continue to live eternally with God who is. Jesus was saying, you can’t judge heaven as you judge the earth. Earthly life leads to death; heavenly life is eternally different. There is no more dying or pain, crying out or concerns. The focus of those in heaven is God; all relationships are focused on him. Our concerns while on earth are no longer the same concerns in heaven. St. Paul expressed it this way: eye has not seen and ear has not heard what God has prepared for those who are with him in heaven.

Reading 2: Paul reminds us that God is faithful and he gives us the strength to be faithful in turn so as to endure in Christ whatever may come. We can depend on the Lord to the extent we have a personal, real, true relationship with God.

Jesus in his humanity was able to endure the cruelty of the crucifixion because he loved the Father and knew the Father loved him. He didn’t desire death by crucifixion but he wanted to do the will of the Father out of love even it meant his death for our salvation.

It is the same love of the Father that will enable us to embrace the difficulties and trials of life, even the moment of death. We know that nothing can separate us from the love of God. With this awareness and the hope of entering into eternal life after death, we live each moment as it is our last, so that our last will be eternal in the presence of God.

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