This week is the thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time. As we near the end of the Church’s liturgical year, the readings become more eschatological—relating to the end of times or the final coming of the Lord. The main theme of today’s readings is the reality of life after death and the relationship between our lives on earth and our lives of glory or punishment that will follow. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), our belief in Resurrection is based upon a faith-relationship with God as Creator. “God revealed the resurrection of the dead to His people progressively” (CCC #992). The readings reaffirm our Faith in the Resurrection and the meaning of Resurrection in our daily lives.
The first reading, from the Second Book of Maccabees, states the Jewish theology of martyrdom and the resurrection of the just. The intense suffering to which good Jews were subjected led them to the belief that the justice of God would reward the faithful and would punish the wicked in the afterlife. The reading describes the heroic resistance of a mother and her seven sons who willingly sacrificed their lives rather than defying God’s law that forbade the eating of pork. They followed the law also because they believed in the Resurrection of the Dead. Because of their Faith and obedience to God, they endured suffering and accepted martyrdom.
The second reading was meant to encourage the Thessalonians, who were waiting for the Parousia—the Second Coming of Christ—to trust in the fidelity of God. It was also meant to open their eyes to the fact that the Lord would strengthen their hearts in every good work and word. The reading is a form of prayer, as Paul prays for his people to experience a deepening of faith. Paul is very clear that everything depends on prayer because prayer establishes our relationship with God. After praying for his people, Paul asks for the people to pray for him, that he and his companions would do well to further the works of the Gospel. The overall theme of the reading is eternal life, which is God’s reward for those who keep their faith strong; the reading also has a clear connection to the Gospel reading.
The Gospel reading affirms the victory of God and exalts God’s love over the power of death. Jesus speaks of God as the God of the living, Who promises that the ones who will rise to life in Heaven are God’s children. The Gospel shows us how Jesus ingeniously escaped from a doctrinal trap set for Him by the Pharisees. The Pharisees supported the doctrine of the Resurrection of the Dead, but that theory was denied by the Sadducees. Jesus also explained that Heavenly life with God in glory is totally different from earthly life, and that there is no marriage in heaven in the earthly sense. They are like angels, heavenly beings, in which the Sadducees did not believe. Jesus further advised that those raised from the dead “are the children of God because they are ones who will rise.” He teaches that by their Resurrection, they will have the abiding identity of God’s own children and sharing His glory for ever. Resurrection is also a reward for their trusting faith, calling us to live a life of holiness and reminding us not to lose hope in God as we face challenges and difficulties on account of faith.
We are also reminded as not to lie buried in the tomb of our sins. Instead, we are to live joyful and peaceful lives, constantly experiencing the real Presence of the Risen Lord, Who gives us the assurance that our bodies also will be raised, and we will be with Him forever, for all eternity. In addition, the hope of our Resurrection and eternal life with God gives meaning and purpose to our lives on earth. The reason we come together every Sunday to pray as a community, share the Word of God, and break bread with the poor is that we have Faith and Hope in a Living God Who loves us and desires that we all be saved and be with Him for all eternity.