Nov 7: 32nd Sunday Ordinary Time Year C
Readings: 2 Mac 7:1-2, 9-14; 2 Thess 2:16-3:5; Lk 20:27-38
Is there life after death? Yes, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I do believe. But now Dr. Jeffrey Long, a radiation oncologist, who has done research for 10 years on 1,600 NDE people confirms unequivocally that indeed there is life after death. This year, Dr. Long published his book Evidence of the Afterlife: the Science of Near-Death-Experience. His conclusion, that consciousness survives bodily death and moves to an afterlife, may be unsettling to many within a medical community built on death being absolute and final, but rather than shy away from critics, Dr. Long has decided to engage them. The readings this Sunday help us first of all to affirm our faith in the resurrection, and to understand what life after death beyond this world is like. Beyond this world is not a near death experience. The readings underline the importance of remaining faithful and firm in the midst of secular cynicism about our faith. The first reading from the Second Book of Maccabees is an account of Jews who remained faithful even in the face of persecution as they believed they would rise into new life. The point of the reading is that even though the body may die, the soul is immortal; our life here on earth has a purpose; God created us with our destiny in heaven hereafter. That is why the seven sons and their mother display such an incredible faith in the face of death and torture. Each son seems to proclaim more eloquently than the one before him. They are so convinced of life after death. The first reading therefore underlines the foundations of belief and hope in the life hereafter. All seven sons resist to the end, each in turn professing his faith before death. Their faith hinges on their belief in the resurrection; that there is life after death. They believed that the King of the world would raise them up to live again forever. That promise would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ in His resurrection giving new life to all those who had died in faith before him.
The Gospel from Luke is another reminder of the immortality of the human soul. But just as in the first reading, the Gospel reaffirms our faith in the resurrection, and reminds us that our faith witness is bound to be met with opposition and cynicism. In the Gospel, Sadducees are making fun of Jesus. “So, there is life after death? Well, prove it for us? Suppose a woman had seven husbands, and they all died before her, whose wife would she be at the resurrection?” The issue is, if there is life after death, will there be marriage in heaven? So they thought they had outsmarted Jesus; they had Him backed into a corner. Doesn’t that method of opposition sound familiar? St. Paul was aware of this kind of opposition. 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. Jesus in His response helps us to understand that our risen bodies will be different from what they are now. Our bodies now are mortal and vulnerable to all sorts of viruses. In the resurrection we will be like the angels. In other words we will be so transformed with immortality -life everlasting; we will not need to eat and so no going to the grocery store; no health care insurance; no need to continue the human species. Therefore there will be no need for marriage, just like the angels. This faith is founded on our hope in the resurrection, because as Jesus tells us, our God is not a God of the dead but of the living. No matter what opposition may come, we must never be afraid. The resurrection will transform our mortal lives into a life of eternal love of God and one another far more exciting than we have ever experienced on earth. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) The readings challenge us to live in the light of the resurrection, full of hope that indeed there is life after this present earthly life. 2) 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 centrepiece of our faith and Christians have shed their blood because of that faith. 3) Just as the Jewish family in the first reading endured suffering because of their faith in the resurrection, we too must be prepared to defend and to live our faith in the resurrection.
©2010 John S. Mbinda
Homily & Music