The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul, Week XXXII-C, 10 November 2019
2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14 ><}}}*> 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5 ><}}}*> Luke 20:27-38
Our gospel today helps us to further reflect the meaning of last week’s All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day when we honored our departed loved ones with prayers, believing and hoping that some day we shall be with them in heaven at “the resurrection of body and life everlasting”.
Every Sunday this is what we profess and so today, our readings invite us to reflect anew this last but crucial article of our faith, the resurrection of body and life everlasting.
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.”Luke 20:27-33
Jesus had finally entered Jerusalem. What an extraordinary manner for him to discuss death and resurrection right in the city he knew where he would eventually die and rise again in a few days later!
And the first to confront him there were the Sadducees, Israel’s elite from whose ranks came the high priests who later conspired with Rome to put Jesus to death.
Very conservative and rigorous in their practice of religion, the Sadducees were basically fundamentalists who refused to accept oral traditions on equal footing with the Pentateuch. They only accepted whatever was explicitly written on the Pentateuch, discarding anything that the Torah does not mention at all like the resurrection, existence of spiritual beings like angels and immortality of the soul.
Don’t we find ourselves into the same situation too when despite our professed religiosity, we subscribe to other beliefs like reincarnation and fortune-telling because of “proofs” we find about their veracity unlike the resurrection that seems to be so difficult to think of in the first place?
We have those vestiges of fundamentalism within, always searching and asking for proofs on so many things about our religious beliefs, especially about God and Jesus Christ.
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… That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘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.”Luke 20:34-38
Notice how Jesus right away told them analogies and comparisons are not applicable because marriage and resurrection are of two different realms. The Sadducees were thinking on ground level when resurrection is definitely of a higher plane.
Jesus finds no need to prove anything at all to them – even to us! What he is more concerned is for us to “level-up” our thoughts, to set our sights to him, the Son of the Living God.
Now in Jerusalem to fulfill his mission, Jesus in the next two weeks will summarize for us all his teachings that lead to our coming home to the Father in heaven upon our death. Like Jesus Christ who died and rose again, we shall experience the same in the end.
How? Nobody really knows but our faith teaches us that resurrection is more than being restored to life; resurrection is life perfected in Christ. Life is surely changed and that is why it is on a different and higher level of existence.
And it starts right here in this life.
Every time we experience our little deaths on our daily cross with Christ, we also experience our little resurrection when our lives are changed for the better. Amidst our many struggles in this life, we experience God’s loving presence, his very revelation of himself that moves us to deeper faith in him for indeed, he “is not God of the dead” – nor a dead God – because “for him all is alive” .
This faith in the resurrection is faith in the living God “who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace” (2 Thes. 2:16) in Jesus Christ.
It is a faith borne out of our encounter with him as our loving and merciful Father that we are filled with passion to do everything for him because he is so true, so real, like in the experiences of the seven Maccabean brothers who heroically accepted death than sin against God in the first reading.
In 2013, I lost my best friend from high school to cancer.
One week before he died, I visited him three more times and that was when I noticed something so different: during the early months of his sickness, he would always cry to me, expressing his fears and anger but, during that final week of his life, I was the one crying to him while he was the one who would console and explain things to me!
Later, I experienced the same thing with some friends and parishioners I have accompanied in their final journey as a priest.
I have learned that the dying stop crying, stop fearing death because they could already see their final destination. They could feel God so close already that they no longer resist dying, so certain of their own resurrection. We who are left behind cry not only in losing our loved ones but unconsciously because we are afraid, unsure of where our lives are leading to.
In one of the beautiful scenes of the Netflix series The Kominski Method, Sandy (Michael Douglas) told his friend Norman (Alan Larkin) how everyone else is also afraid because nothing is so certain in this life. But, Sandy added, we continue to live because we have others with us journeying together in this life.
Let that Other be Jesus Christ who has come to accompany us in this life and back to the Father in heaven. Amen.