HOMILY FOR 32ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C.
THEME: Live in the light of the resurrection.
BY: Rev Fr Stephen Oladayo Osinkoya.
2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14
Psalm. 17:1. 5-6. 8 & 15
2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5
Beloved in Christ, as the year gradually runs out, most especially as the Church’s calendar gradually comes to an end also, it is only appropriate that the Church starts calling our attentions to eschatological concerns. Our first reading today from the Second Book of Maccabees tells the story of the Jewish resistance movement against the Greek Empire led by Judas Maccabaeus, about 160 years before the time of Christ.
For the people involved in this resistance struggle, there was a great new development in their faith when they began to have the conviction that God will raise men and women to a new life with him after their death.
By the time of the Maccabees, the experiences of the Chosen People had led most of them to this conclusion that God would give new life to his beloved after their earthly life is ended. “You might discharge us from this life,” says one of the brothers in the first reading, “but the King of the world will raise us up to live again for ever”. And another brother says to their torturers: “We are relying on God’s promise that we shall be raised up by him – whereas for you there can be no resurrection, no new life”.
We may be wondering how this belief in life after death had come about. The answer lies in the way the Chosen People grew in their understanding of the Covenant between themselves and God – the special pledge of loyalty and faithfulness between God and the Hebrew people. In the Covenant, God had entered into friendship with them and shared in their history. The question they asked themselves was: Is it consistent with this commitment, and after everything he’s done, for God to just let his people disappear into nothingness after they die? They didn’t think that made sense. For them it contradicted what they knew about God’s nature.
We often wonder what it will be like in the next world. Will it be just like here on earth too, where men and women marry, but only better? In the Gospel, the Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection, are arguing among themselves and they put this idea of the resurrection to Jesus. So they give him a ridiculous example to make a point. It is a kind of test case. They presumed that because their example was so absurd (absurd indeed because, what is there in that woman that seven brothers are ready to die for?), Jesus would have to admit that the idea of the resurrection just did not make sense. But what Jesus basically said was ‘you are trying to figure out the next life in earthly terms; but you cannot do that.’ It is so different that we cannot even begin to think what it would be like.
The problem of the Sadducees has to do with how things are going to be in the resurrection life, whereas Jesus’ response suggests that we should concern ourselves with the question “why resurrection in the first place?”. There is a resurrection because God is God of the living. God has created us for life and not for ultimate extinction. God does not blow us into life like bubbles, here today, and tomorrow, like bubble burst, gone. No!, God gifts us with life even after this earthly existence is over.
Today’s readings challenge us to live in the light of the resurrection, full of hope that indeed there is life after this present earthly life. That is why we confess in the Creed that ‘I believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.’
The resurrection is the centerpiece of our faith and Christians have shed their blood because of that faith. Again, just as in the First Reading, the Jewish family endured suffering because of their faith in the resurrection, we too must be prepared to defend and to live our faith in the resurrection.
Moreover, St. Paul was aware of this kind of opposition and persecution. It is as though he speaks directly to us in today’s Second Reading. “Pray that you might be delivered from perverse and wicked people. For not all have faith. Be faithful to the Lord and the Lord will be faithful to you.” That is why the Gospel Reading today invites us not only to celebrate our faith in the living God, but also to be quite clear on what our faith in the resurrection means. “He is God of the living, not of the dead.”
A surprising number of people, who even call themselves Christian, do not believe in life after death. perhaps not explicitly by deny resurrection, but implicitly by the manner of their life which doesn’t show their belief in eternal life. For if they do believe in eternal life, they’d have been living in a way that leads to eternal life
Our life after death, who we are, and what sort of character we shall take with us into the next life is shaped and formed by the way we live our lives right now, tomorrow, throughout the coming week, and throughout the remaining days of our lives. There’s really no such thing as a sinful life that doesn’t matter. Nor is there an act of love that’s of little or no consequence. As a matter of fact, that is one of the main points of Jesus’ teaching today
Jesus is asking us as he asked the sadducees a serious question about their national heroes, namely Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses. Do we think that God created these great men only to blot them out into nothingness after their deaths? Do we really think that all of those beautiful people in our lives whom we know, who are strong, loving and wise, who are compassionate and kind, and who care so passionately for life and love . . . do we really think that when they die they simply fizzle out into clouds of nothingness? . Never!
The God of the Covenant – the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – is the God of the living, not of the dead. If God lives in eternity, then his association and friendship with the human beings he created, who have lived righteously also has to go on into eternity. To do anything else would be against the nature of the Covenant. It would run counter to the whole meaning of his relationship with his people.
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Beloved in Christ, if there is one belief that the men and women of our world need today it is the belief in the resurrection. Why? Because it is the effective antidote to the infectious disease of materialism in our world today. The story is told of an American tourist who paid the 19th century Polish rabbi Hofetz Chaim a visit. Astonished to see that the rabbi’s home was only a simple room filled with books, a table and a bench, the tourist asked, “Rabbi, where is your furniture?” “Where is yours?” replied the rabbi. “Mine?” asked the puzzled tourist. “But I’m only a visitor here. I’m only passing through.” “So am I,” said Hofetz Chaim
Beloved in Christ, we all are visitors here on earth, passing through and journeying towards eternity. Eternity is certain, but where we would end remains uncertain. If we live rightly, eternal life is assured us, otherwise, eternal damnation. The ball is in our court!
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