November 10, 2019 Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary time

One of the most moving passages demonstrating fidelity to God is today’s First Reading. In it a mother and her seven sons testify that their faith in God and their fidelity to him are absolute. King Antiochus tries to get them to renounce the rules of their religion, promising them riches and rewards for doing so.

On the contrary, he threatens them with death if they fail to comply. Like so many who place all their hope in temporal realities, the tyrant fails to see what could motivate them outside of these rewards and punishments.

As the sons and, finally, the mother are put to death one by one, they give witness to their belief. They know that the same Creator, God who gave them life, will give them everlasting life for not denying him. Eternal happiness motivates them more than any temporal reward or punishment.

In this refusal to sin against God, even at the cost of their lives, is contained a number of truths which lie at the heart of the Catholic Faith.

In The Gospel of Life Pope John Paul II states: Certainly the life of the body in its earthly state is not an absolute good for the believer, especially as he may be asked to give up his life for a greater good.

This must be the starting point for the Christian – the life of the body in its earthly state is not an absolute good – and so we must be ready to sacrifice this lesser good (our life) for a higher good (God’s law and life eternal).

I think this is a very good point for us so involved with  our earthly lives and activities here and now all the sports and other activities today, to ask ourselves how much time we spent to develop our spiritual condition. Do we have time to improve the spiritual condition of our children? Or we just neglect their spiritual needs? How often do I pray with them? Do I know my faith, am I able to explain to my children what I believe and why? Do I educate myself what the teaching of my faith really is?

In The Splendor of Life the Pope JP II says: It is an honor characteristic of Christians to obey God rather than men (cf. Acts 4:19; 5:29) and to accept even martyrdom as a consequence.

Obedience to God must be a higher good than our human life. Another rather obvious lesson in all this is the same one we learned last week – faith has little meaning unless we practice it.

John Paul II also wrote a Letter to Children in which he told them: How can we fail to be reminded, for example, of holy boys and girls who lived in the first centuries and are still known and venerated throughout the Church? Saint Agnes, who lived in Rome; Saint Agatha, who was martyred in Sicily; Saint Tarcisius, a boy who is rightly called the “martyr of the Eucharist” because he preferred to die rather than give up Jesus, whom he was carrying under the appearance of bread.

The Gospel today restates the reality of life after death. Jesus instructs the proud Sadducees, who didn’t believe in the resurrection, that if God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob they must be living, even though they have died. Otherwise, God would be God of the dead, and this is unthinkable. God mentions these three men with whom he had made a covenant and who were themselves faithful to that covenant. Jesus assures that they live in God.
More ironically still, Sadducees try to make Jesus admit the impossibility of life after death by employing an example of seven brothers, who marry the same woman one after the other as the preceding spouse died.

Answering the Sadducees, Jesus said, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given to marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.”
In other words, in the resurrection, when we are transformed at the twinkle of an eye, just like the angels of God, we will receive spiritual bodies that are incorruptible. In this physical world, God has instituted the Sacrament of marriage [Gen 2:24] and procreation [Gen. 3:16] for mankind to multiply and spread all over the earth. But once in Heaven, there will be no more procreation.
On this subject, Saint Paul tells us, “What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.
The man from Heaven does not live by the same rules as the man of dust. The man of Heaven no longer feels hunger or thirst. He no longer gets tired or needs to sleep. He no longer experiences day or night, warmth or cold. He no longer sheds tears for he continuously enjoys the beatific vision of God. Death shall have been conquered through the Sacred Blood of Jesus Christ. With death shall depart suffering and pain.

St. Paul reiterates the principal theme of the liturgy. He tells the Thessalonians, “The Lord is faithful.” On God’s behalf, this faithfulness will be attested to by the strength and protection that he provides. His faithfulness also assures their faithfulness, since it is his gracious gift that their hearts be directed to the love of God and to enduring whatever is necessary for Christ.
Sometimes the threat of hardship or suffering can make us desist from doing a good action. We often consider only the immediate consequences of our actions, failing to see them in the light of eternity.
Love proves true precisely by enduring hardship for the beloved. If loving God by speaking of him to others brings us ridicule, we should be glad to have something to suffer out of love for him. If giving of my time, talents and treasure for the good of the Church cuts into my leisure, my perseverance in giving makes my love real.
Far from making us sad or embittered, loving God by sacrificing ourselves brings happiness, since happiness comes from a faithful heart. So, we will have happiness, even in this life. However, what God has prepared for us in heaven, the eye has not seen, nor has the ear heard, nor can we even image how utterly good it is. Eternity is the ultimate motivation for doing good in this life.