32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“All Have Life Because Of Him!”
When we speak of the resurrection, we must be careful. Let us not take it to mean what the Pharisees and the Sadducees at the time of Jesus took it to mean, as merely an improvement on this life.
The Story of the woman with seven husbands as well as other misunderstandings between believers and unbelievers stem from this incorrect notion.
The first reading reveals the first solemn statement in the Bible of life beyond death. This truth, so central to our faith, will be fully revealed by Jesus in the Gospel.
Our faith in the resurrection influences our whole way of looking at human existence. Our faith must be nourished by prayer as Paul recommends in the second reading.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
Such commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Allow the Spirit of God to break the chains that keep us from understanding and accepting the word of God.”
2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14.
We are born, we grow, we fall in love, we form a family and we educate our children. We work, we undertake responsibilities, we bear joys and sorrows, we dream and we hope and then suddenly one day everything seems to disappear into nothing, into death. In death, everything seems to be brought to an end with no purpose served. Has God really created the human being for such a purposeless and cruel destiny? This is the dramatic question we all have to answer in our search for the truth. What is the Word of God telling us on this very challenging issue?
The first books of the Bible show clearly that in ancient times the Israelites did not believe in another life. If we had asked them: “Is there a resurrection from the dead?” they would have replied: “We don’t know it! We are interested in the life of this world, a life that we want full of joy and satisfaction,” If we had asked the same question to a devout Jew at the time of the prophet Isaiah, he would have been even more unambiguous: “The dead will not come back, the shadows will not rise again. God has wiped out their very memory.” (Is 26:14) Only much later, that is, about 170 years before Christ, Israel began to speak of a “awakening” of those who sleep in the Land of Dust (cf Dan 12:2), and the story that we read today takes place at that time. In 167 BC, privileges which allowed the Jewish people to worship their own God and to keep ‘His Law’, were withdrawn. King Antiochus insisted that they behave like everybody else. 2 Maccabees relates how an old man Eleazar endured a hideous death for refusing to eat pork. Seven brothers and their mother followed his example. They accepted their suffering in the hope of new life and resurrection.
The first reading features the dramatic excerpt from the martyrdom of the seven brothers during the persecution of Antiochus IV (175-164 B.C.) before the Maccabean revolt. Each of the brothers, urged on by their mother (“Mother of Courage”), affirms their fidelity in the law and trust in the resurrection before unspeakable torture and death. When the second brother came to die, he said to those who were about to kill him, “Inhuman fiend, you may discharge us from this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up, since it is for his laws that we die, to live again forever.” When the fourth brother neared his end he cried out in faith, “Ours is the better choice, to meet death at men’s hands, yet relying on God’s promise that we will be raised up by him; whereas for you there can be no resurrection, no new life.” The fidelity and victory of the Maccabean martyrs are recalled by our Jewish brothers and sisters at the feast of Hanukkah, also celebrated at this time of the year.
The seven brothers are convinced that God will grant them only a life similar to the one being taken away from them because of their fidelity to the Law. They are not expecting anything new or strikingly different. They can’t even imagine what God is about to do one day when he will raise his Son from the tomb.
Psalm 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15.
The Psalm for this Sunday shows the understanding of God that led to belief in the resurrection. This is a God who takes a personal interest in the faithful. The psalmist has experienced God’s protection and care in his own life and is therefore talking from his own happy experience. He also shares his wisdom that the only way to true happiness is the fear of the Lord, which means avoiding evil and doing good. There is a hint of what would later become resurrection faith: “As for me, in my justice, let me see your face; when I wake, let me be satisfied with your presence”.
2 Thessalonians 2:16 – 3:5.
The second reading is about God and Jesus (not unconnected with resurrection-faith) “Our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father who loved us and gives eternal comfort and a good hope, as a free gift”. Paul urges his Thessalonian converts to pray, “that we may be rescued from wicked and evil people … But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.”
The long journey to Jerusalem has come to an end. In today’s Gospel, Jesus is at last in Jerusalem and he continues to teach. There is a growing opposition to his ministry and the climax of his final confrontation with the religious and political authorities is about to come.
The Sadducees try to make fun of his teachings. The Sadducees were a sect or group within Judaism. Some Sadducees belonged to the upper class of the priesthood, while others were their supporters. They believed only in the authority of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, not in the whole scriptures like the other Jews, They did not believe in angels or demons, denied divine providence and denied the concept of life after death and in the resurrection of the body. To trap Jesus, they put to him the case of the seven brothers who, following the leviratic law, each in turn married the same woman on the death of their brother. The Sadducees asked, “In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? – ‘For the seven had married her’.” Jesus replied that marriage is for this life, not the next. In his explanation Jesus makes it clear that there is no comparison between human life, shared by all, and the resurrection, shared by those who are the children of God.
Jesus makes a distinction between two ages and two peoples: the people of this age who live a life peculiar to this time, and the just who are resurrected from the dead into a new age. Jesus does not speak of the resurrection of all people, but resurrection of those people who “are accounted worthy” to share the new age. As children of God, they cannot die again; therefore, marriage does not apply to them. There will be no need to propagate the human race or to ensure legal succession; therefore, the question of the Sadducees is irrelevant. He then went on to make the point that in one of the books that the Sadducees accepted as inspired, Moses calls the Lord “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”. Jesus then drew this conclusion: “now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.” Therefore, Jesus implies, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob must be alive. The Sadducees complimented Jesus on his answer. Some of them may have been among the priests who later became Christians.
Jesus does more than argue the case; the time comes when he himself becomes the argument. He undergoes death, and he experiences the glory of the ‘Resurrection’ when God refuses to let death have the last word. The Risen Jesus is the ultimate argument against the Sadducees.
Since there is a resurrection to new life, ours is the better choice when we opt to follow Christ, and not the world.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following
32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C, we reflect on …
Sun. … Our Catholic Faith teaches us that death does not equal extinction of the human spirit. Death is like a rebirth. The Scriptures speak of death as a new birth when we break out of the womb of this world and enter into a new creation. The next world into which we are born is the Kingdom of God beyond our imaging.
Mon. … At the end of our life it is time to go home. God has kept his promise to us all of our life. He will always remain faithful. For the faithful, death is life that is changed, not ended, because the bond of union in the Body of Christ unites us still.
Tues. … ‘By trying each day to die more to self and to sin, the Christian lives more deeply in Christ’. If we make a success of that, in the end dying won’t be a problem. It will simply be the confirmation of our whole life’s purpose.
Wed. … In the second reading, Paul urges his Thessalonian converts to pray, “that we may be rescued from wicked and evil people. The Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.”
Thurs. … The death of Jesus is the model and norm of every human death. He accepted death in freedom. His whole existence was oriented towards his death, for he knew that a final conflict between the powers of this world and the Word of God was inevitable, and that this conflict would be played out between the contemporary religious establishments and himself. Such a death brought wholeness to his life, and so it can to ours.
Frid. … How will life with God be? We do not know and our finite wisdom would not be able to understand it. Those who try to describe it can only make us smile as they inevitably describe it as an extension and improvement of our present life. Life with God will be beyond our imagining.
Sat. … Paradise is not like a house that we must buy, and therefore we must first know how many rooms there are, if there is electricity, running water, air-conditioning, a garden with fruit trees and so on. What we must get busy with is the life in this world. As for the new life, we can only expect it as a gratuitous and wonderful gift given by the Father to all his children.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, may our faith in the ‘Resurrection’ modify our whole way of looking at the purpose of human existence. We pray that by Your grace that we may develop our love for our neighbour and put into action morals of a high standard so that we may be united to Christ, and become destined to pass on with him from death in this world to new life. We believe it is Your will that we become united with You.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group.
Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.