YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 32ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME.
THEME: LIFE AFTER LIFE.
BY: Fr Andrew Ekpenyong.
1. Tombstone/Epitaph. Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790) was a polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was a leading writer, printer, political philosopher, politician, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, diplomat, founder of schools and a University, etc. In physics, he is known for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity: positive and negative charges, conservation of charge. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. Benjamin said many witty things and I tell you one in relation to the Scripture readings today: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” He definitely thought a lot about death, took the biblical teaching on resurrection seriously, to the point of writing down his own epitaph: The Body of B. Franklin, the former printer lies here, food for worms, like the cover of an old book: its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding. But the work shall not be wholly lost: for it will, as he believed, appear once more in a new & more perfect edition, corrected and amended by its Author. (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/franklin-epitaph.html). At the funeral oration of a friend, Benjamin Franklin wrote and read, underpinning life after life: “Our friend and we were invited abroad on a party of pleasure, which is to last forever. His chair was ready first and he has gone before us. We could not all conveniently start together; and why should you and I be grieved at this, since we are soon to follow, and know where to find him.”
2. Life After Life. Today’s first reading (2 Mc 7:1-2, 9-14) relates the story of a heroic Jewish woman and her seven sons who refused their captor’s order to eat pork, something forbidden as “unclean” by Jewish Law (Lev 11:7). This happened during the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire (312 BC to 63 BC). It is true that later, in the New Testament, our Lord Jesus Christ taught that nothing that goes into a person makes a person unclean thereby declaring all foods clean (Mark 7:19). Yet, the intent of the captors of the Jews was to force them into renouncing their religion, their faith in God. The woman and her seven sons chose martyrdom instead of disobeying God’s commandments as they understood it. They found courage to face death because of their faith in the resurrection. And they even expressed this faith before their torturers. The fourth brother said: “”It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up by him…” Well, not everyone believed in the Resurrection even when Christ revealed it, died and rose from the dead to prove it and to prepare us for it. In today’s Gospel (Lk 20:27-38), the Sadduccees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, tried a reductio ad absurdum by presenting an extreme scenario to reduce the notion of a resurrection into a logical absurdity. Our Lord clarified that life after the resurrection is immortal and different from the present. Since the Sadducees at least believed in the 5 books of Moses, the Pentateuch containing the Torah, our Lord then met them on their own terms when He added: “That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called out ‘Lord, ‘ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
ALSO READ: YEAR C: 32ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME.
3. Here and Now. Of what use is my faith in the resurrection if my life here and now does not reflect that faith? The Jewish woman and her 7 sons lived lives and died deaths that reflected the resurrection. As Jurgen Moltmann, a former prisoner of war who is now a celebrated theologian mentioned, it is hard to look forward to the Resurrection if there are people one would rather not see again. Yes, I personally wish to treat everyone here and now, in such a way that I can look forward to seeing them again, at the Resurrection.
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