10 November 2013 – Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

THE SUNDAY GOSPEL:  THIRTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C

Luke 20: 27—38               

Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection,
came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying,
“Teacher, Moses wrote for us,
If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child,
his brother must take the wife
and raise up descendants for his brother.

Now there were seven brothers;
the first married a woman but died childless.
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.”
Jesus said to them,
“The children of this age marry and remarry;
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 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.”

PASTOR’S REFLECTION by Father Mike Joly: THIRTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C

“Marriage is but a glimpse of the Resurrection”

Here is the good news: Even today, in such very secular and floundering times as these, people are still concerned about heaven. People in today’s Gospel as well; put forth their questions about heaven, particularly concerning the truth about marriage in heaven. The motives of the questioners (Jewish liturgical groups called Sadducees) are not very pure. They deny the reality of resurrection from the dead, and they attempt to trap Jesus in their own darkness and confusion. But Jesus’ answer to them is quite pure and full and true.

If we are concerned about whether marriage exists in heaven, be assured that it does. Though perhaps not as our human emotion and relations would have it, and certainly not as our secularized and frantic society would have it, there is the fullness of marital communion. The Bridegroom (Jesus) awaits His true bride (the Church). Since God is the Creator of all, having made humanity in His own divine image, there is a deep longing in the human soul to be “one with” the God who created us. It’s an insatiable longing for one’s true spouse, and only God can satisfy it. We crave earthly solutions to our longing for the divine and the holy. Of course, nothing on earth will ever satisfy or humanize our souls except the divine love of the One who made us.

And so God in His infinite generosity and compassion blesses the Church with ways to glimpse our “Spouse,” His love and His face, even now on earth. Marriage is one such divinely-instituted gift. The husband will say, “What I love most about my wife is her patience and her forgiveness.” The wife, when asked what do you love most about your husband will say, “He really sacrifices himself for those he loves.” They are actually glimpsing a small, imperfect face of Christ in each other. Jesus Himself is perfect patience and forgiveness and sacrifice and love. They are actually longing for Christ, and they encounter Him imperfectly in each other.

Indeed, all of the seven Sacraments are access ways for specific grace. While all of the Seven Sacraments connect our souls with eternal reality, marriage is the only Sacrament which draws on the souls of two human beings (a man and a woman) who reflect a tiny, holy glimpse of our heavenly union with Christ. In each other, they see and experience an imperfect foretaste of the perfect loving and fruitful union of God and us.

Times are very tough right now for the spiritually alert and the faithful in Christ. It’s not going to get any easier either. There is more and more insidious secular spirit which is breathed into the soul of the masses of people, turning them toward the profane and the earth-bound as the replacement for their Eternal Spouse, Jesus Christ. The rush toward the replacement is like a blind stampede. God is seductively being replaced by a fallen spirit which turns men and women away from our bridegroom. It’s reminiscent of the very faithful Jewish Macabee family in the first reading. The secular pressures upon the spiritually alert were intense a few hundred years before Christ. Since Christ, the evil lies and threats have intensified to a feverish pitch. Everything of the human soul is a stake.

“Encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word” (2 Thessalonians 2: 17). Thank God for marriage. Thank God that He affords humanity a Sacrament whereby a man and a woman can taste a bit of the Kingdom, for which each person longs. “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.”   (Luke 20: 34—36)