Defining our future by living in the present and reconciling with the past

November 10, 2019 – 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

A reading from the 2nd Book of Maccabees (7:1-2,9-14)

It 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. 
One of the brothers, speaking for the others, said:
“What do you expect to achieve by questioning us? 
We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.”

At the point of death he said:
“You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life,
but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever. 
It is for his laws that we are dying.”

After him the third suffered their cruel sport.
He put out his tongue at once when told to do so,
and bravely held out his hands, as he spoke these noble words:
“It was from Heaven that I received these;
for the sake of his laws I disdain them;
from him I hope to receive them again.”
Even the king and his attendants marveled at the young man’s courage,
because he regarded his sufferings as nothing.

After he had died,
they tortured and maltreated the fourth brother in the same way.
When he was near death, he said,
“It is my choice to die at the hands of men
with the hope God gives of being raised up by him;
but for you, there will be no resurrection to life.”

A reading from the Second Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians (2:16-3:5)

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.

Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us,
so that the word of the Lord may speed forward and be glorified,
as it did among you,
and that we may be delivered from perverse and wicked people,
for not all have faith.
But the Lord is faithful;
he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.
We are confident of you in the Lord that what we instruct you,
you are doing and will continue to do.
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God
and to the endurance of Christ.

A reading from the Holy Gospel to Luke (20:27-28)

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.” 

Homily

Are you living to die? Or are you dying to live?

Few weeks ago, I was in a funeral wake of a young professional in his mid-twenties. Because of so much pain and hurts that he was experiencing in his young life, he couldn’t endure them anymore. He felt helpless and hopeless. He felt alone and lonely. All of these directed him to depression until his depression clouded his mind and heart which also led him to kill himself.

Without judging or condemning him, such situation brought me to ask myself, how am I living my life right now? Am I living to die, letting hopelessness and despair to deprive me to live fully and meaningfully?

Back in college, I met a leper in Cebu, an 80 plus year old woman, who was abandoned by her family in her teen-age years when leprosy began to manifest in her body. Yet, despite being abandoned and left alone in the hospital for lepers, she remained hopeful in life by resisting to be eaten up by despair, by emotional hurts, by abandonment and by the very suffering she was enduring. Thus, she even adopted an abandoned baby girl whom she named Nancy. She found Nancy in a garbage bin in Cebu. Despite her poverty, she accepted Nancy in her life and let Nancy feel a mother’s love, affection and care. Yet, as Nancy grew up and due to her failing eyesight and old age, she has to let go of Nancy and bring her to a group of Sisters who could provide better the needs of Nancy. Despite the pain of separation and of the loneliness she would endure by losing Nancy beside her, she let her go for the sake of her beloved daughter. In that way, she gave life to Nancy even though she herself struggled to live.

With this encounter, I also asked myself, am I giving life? Have I tried to die from my selfish desires in order to give life to others?

Such situations and questions that have come up invited me to dwell deeper also into the readings proclaimed to us this Sunday. Thus, I would like to invite you that we discover together God’s invitation for us today.

The 2nd Book of Maccabees tells us of the story of the seven brothers and their mother who were persecuted and killed. Despite the persecution, they did not fear of dying and to give witness to what they believed. They remained faithful to the law of God until the end. Were they wasting their life for the sake of faith? No, their very life became an inspiration to the many generations after them. Through their witness, the people found assurance in God’s promise of eternal life.

By dying they have given life. However, those who tortured them who deprived others to live, were eaten up by malice, greed and evil. The torturers learned and knew how to kill but also they never learned how to live and give life. This was the reason why they too will be deprived of the resurrection because only to those who have lived life and given life will be given new life at the resurrection.

In the Gospel, the Pharisees and teachers of the law who were so concerned of what they could get from others in this life, asked a malicious question to Jesus, to trick him and embarrass him. Yet, Jesus knew their hearts. They too were filled with malice and selfish desires. This attitude reflected in the very situation they presented to Jesus of a woman marrying the seven brothers when one after another died without having any child.

Life, then, is not about accumulating things from others, or securing something for oneself. Life and living life is to be able to give life to others. This is what St Paul has told us in his letter to the Thessalonians. God’s love and faithfulness makes us alive. God strengthens us in our weakness. Through this, then, God moves us to share to others what we have received and experienced by living together as brothers and sisters by encouraging and praying for one another and showing good deeds and words to all.

Let us be confident in this then, for God loves us and he is faithful to us. Despite the bad experiences that we may have now, the ugly and painful environment we may have, or our messy and traumatic past, the persecution and suffering caused by others to you – never lose hope in living your life fully. Be reconciled with your past embrace whatever there is in life and whatever you don’t have too. Discover the wonder and beauty of living now with others and with Jesus. Never stop giving life to others, in sharing your very life to people who are dear to you, because it is in this way that we become more hopeful to a life with Jesus. Living our life fully today and giving life to others is already a foretaste of what is to come after. Kabay pa.

Jom Baring, CSsR

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A Dose of God Today

A-Dose-of-God-Today : Your Daily Spiritual Nourishment, tries to put into words the thoughts and experiences of the wonder of life through the Holy Scriptures and the many invitations of God today.

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