Wednesday, November 2, 2016

November 6, 2016 - The Resurrection of the Dead

The Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time  -  Year C

Reading I:   2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14
Response :  Psalm 17
Reading II:  2 Thessalonians 2:6-3:5
Gospel:  Luke 20:27-28

In today’s Gospel, we find the Sadducees attempting to discredit Jesus’ teaching about the resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees did not believe in bodily resurrection. Humans survived as ghosts in a place called Sheol, a shadowy underworld. On the other hand, the Pharisees believed that the afterlife was an extension of this life into eternity. The Sadducees considered this foolish.

The Hebrew Scriptures had preserved the brave words of one of the seven brothers who refused to disobey the law by eating pork. His response to the threat of death was the following: “It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up by him.”

Some Sadducees decided to try to trap Jesus by posing a situation in which a woman had been married seven times. According to the law, if a man died childless, his brother was to marry the wife and raise children on behalf of his deceased sibling. The story proposed that there would be seven brothers who could claim the wife. Jesus was asked which one she would belong to at the resurrection.

Jesus response was that the risen life will be a new experience in which we will share in the life and love of God. Limited earthly experiences will be replaced by more profound ones which will provide for unity with God and one another on a new level. Jesus said that we cannot even imagine what God has prepared for those who love him.

We have all heard of near-death experiences of people who are reluctant to return to earth because of the peace and joy they had, as a taste of heaven. This can be a source of comfort to us as our loved ones are called home to God.

As Catholics, we believe in the Communion of Saints, a unity with those who have gone before us and those of us still here on earth. Again, we do not know exactly what form our reunion in heaven will take. Our God is a God of love and surprises. We can look forward to the best surprise of all!!!


  1. Yes indeed! The glories of heavenly reunion with God are probably far, far above the reach of our human understanding at the present time. However, we can trustfully repeat the psalm response for this Sunday: "Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full."

    The following quotations are from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    "Those who die in God's grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live forever with Christ. They are like God forever, for they "see him as he is," face to face. (1 Jn 3:2;cf. 1 Cor 13:12
    Rev. 22:4.)" #1023

    "This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity - this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed - is called "heaven." Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness." #1024

    "This mystery of blessed communion with God and all who are in Christ is beyond all understanding and description. Scripture speaks of it in images; life, light, peace, wedding feast, wine of the kingdom, the Father's house, the heavenly Jerusalem, paradise: "no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Cor 2::9 #1027

    "In the glory of heaven the blessed continue joyfully to fulfill God's will in relation to other men and to all creation. Already they reign with Christ; with him, "they shall reign for ever and ever." (Rev 22:5; cf. Mt 25:21,23) #1029

  2. One of my favorite gospels is the story of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus who did not recognize the risen Jesus until He broke bread during their meal. For me, this is evidence indeed that the body is risen and transformed.
    A dear friend of mine died a few years ago after having lived with a debilitating condition for most of his adult life. By the time I met Joe, walking was a painful challenge for him as he had crippling rheumatoid arthritis. His immune system was weakened as well and he was sick almost every day. When he died, I was comforted by thoughts of him having a glorified body, free of sickness, disease, and limitation. My hope was based on Luke’s gospel story noted above.
    I found my thoughts drifting to this gospel today as I attended the funeral services, Mass, and burial of my aunt. Aunt Floss was the last living relative from the generation of my father’s family. She was 91 years old and lived a good life. She had been ill for the past year, declining rapidly over the past two months and she was ready to surrender her earthly body and join those she loved who had died before her.
    Father reflected on the cycle of life emphasizing the Season of Autumn as the time of harvest in preparation for death. Without dying in the fall, there would not be rebirth in the spring. As Christians we are not people of decay but of harvest – the harvest which God will gather to Himself on the last day. The promises of the Resurrection of the dead on the last day and of life everlasting fill us with peace and hope.
    Sunday’s gospel mentions that the Sadducees denied that there is a resurrection. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition, article 996 states, “On no point does the Christian faith encounter more opposition than on the resurrection of the body.” While most people acknowledge that life continues after death in some spiritual fashion, the idea that our mortal body could rise to everlasting life is hard to grasp. Article 997 states that, “God, in his almighty power, will definitively grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls, through the power of Jesus’ Resurrection.”
    “Christ will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, into a spiritual body (article 999).”
    That Christ will raise us up on the last day was said several times during the funeral services today. When I returned home, I referenced the Catechism and found the following:
    “And you were buried with him in Baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead…If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God ( article 1002).”
    I am thinking that Jesus’ comments to the Sadducees, in response to their questions about the deceased brother’s wife marrying his remaining brothers, contained an important message for all his followers.
    In life, if we engage in behaviors based on earthly thinking, we will find ourselves asking senseless questions. However, if we live with the awareness that we are one with Christ, we will experience life through a Christ consciousness and be able to trust, as Saint Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, that the Lord will direct our hearts to the love of God and to endurance of Christ.