Greetings on this the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: 2 Mc 7:1-2, 9-14; Ps 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15; 2 Thes 2:16-3:5; Lk 20:27-38
Notes: Our readings for this Sunday, 32nd Sunday Ordinary Time, Cycle C, is preparing us for the celebration of Christ, the King, the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Christ, King of the Universe, has power over death and while the allowance for some evil to occur is a mysterious part of the plan, there is no doubt as to the final outcome and the fullest absolute nature of the love of God.
Why do I say that? The Lord will overcome all evils and his promises are sure.
Extreme of Cruelty
Our first reading brings us a story about the extremes of the cruelty of humanity.
- It also happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested and tortured with whips and scourges by the king to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law (2 Mac 7:1).
- The King was forcing religious conversion upon the Hebrew people in the hopes that they would submit totally to his rule and his cultures ways. Faith and human power come to their ultimate climatic confrontation.
By human accounts the family failed. The seven brothers died in front of the Mother.
- Last of all, after her sons, the mother was put to death (2 Mac 7:41).
- So horrible this story the story ends with: Enough has been said about the sacrificial meals and the excessive cruelties (2 Mac 7:42).
Extreme of Faith
Yet we see the beauty of faith which at times is called to the extremes of human tolerance.
Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother who, seeing her seven sons perish in a single day, bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord (2 Mac 7:20).
How beautiful the words of the Mother to her son:
Filled with a noble spirit that stirred her womanly reason with manly emotion, she exhorted each of them in the language of their ancestors with these words: “I do not know how you came to be in my womb; it was not I who gave you breath and life, nor was it I who arranged the elements you are made of. Therefore, since it is the Creator of the universe who shaped the beginning of humankind and brought about the origin of everything, he, in his mercy, will give you back both breath and life, because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law.” (2 Mac 7:21-23).
She leaned over close to him and, in derision of the cruel tyrant, said in their native language: “Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months, nursed you for three years, brought you up, educated and supported you to your present age. I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth and see all that is in them; then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things. In the same way humankind came into existence. Do not be afraid of this executioner, but be worthy of your brothers and accept death, so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with your brothers. (2 Mac 7:27-29)”
In the Gospel reading we see a similar disregard for the Law and the Lord.
The Sadducees are mocking both the Law and the Hope of the Resurrection.
Their example, a hypothetical, attempts to expose a type of futility of the tradition of protecting the widow and the honor of the brother who died without children. Not just the futility of the action in this life (all seven husbands died, no children). But futility in the life to come, which they believe is not actually the case – for them – no faith in eternal life.
Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her. (LK 20:30-33)”
In both example the promise of the Resurrection is the response.
- 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. (LK20:37-38)
- I am the God of your father, he continued, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God (Ex 3:6).
- For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living (Rom 14:8-9).
From ancient times some sort of understanding of resurrection or regeneration existed.
Jesus makes the proper interpretation clear.
- v6 The Lord God is looking on and truly has compassion on us, as Moses declared in his song, when he openly bore witness, saying, ‘And God will have compassion on his servants.
- v9b the King of the universe will raise us up to live again forever, because we are dying for his laws.
- v11b from him I hope to receive them again.
- v14 the hope that God will restore me to life
- v37 imploring God to show mercy soon to our nation
- v38 may there be an end to the wrath of the Almighty
Martyrdom of a Mother and Her Seven Sons.
- v9 “You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to live again forever, because we are dying for his laws.”
- v14 “It is my choice to die at the hands of mortals with the hope that God will restore me to life; but for you, there will be no resurrection to life.”
- v17 Only wait, and you will see how his great power will torment you and your descendants.
- v19 Do not think, then, that you will go unpunished for having dared to fight against God.”
- v34-35 But you, wretch, most vile of mortals, do not, in your insolence, buoy yourself up with unfounded hopes, as you raise your hand against the children of heaven. You have not yet escaped the judgment of the almighty and all-seeing God.
- v36a But you, by the judgment of God, shall receive just punishments for your arrogance.
- v37b by afflictions and blows to make you confess that he alone is God.
Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Keep me as the apple of your eye, hide me in the shadow of your wings. But I in justice shall behold your face; on waking I shall be content in your presence.
Brothers and sisters: May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.
Jesus Christ is the firstborn of the dead; to him be glory and power, forever and ever.
Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘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.” Some of the scribes said in reply, “Teacher, you have answered well.” And they no longer dared to ask him anything. (LK 20:34-40)
Peace be with you,