O.T. 32 [C] Sunday homily (Nov 10) one-page summary (L/19)
Introduction: As we near the end of the Church’s liturgical year, the readings become more eschatological — having to do with the end times. The main theme of today’s readings is the reality of life after death and of the relationship between our lives on earth and the life of glory or punishment that will follow. The readings invite us to consider the true meaning of the Resurrection in our lives.
Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading describes a Jewish family, consisting of a mother and her seven sons, who refused their conqueror’s command to eat pork, forbidden as “unclean” by Jewish Law. Because of their Faith in, and obedience to, God, they endure suffering and accept martyrdom. During their torture, three of the brothers speak, and each of them finds strength in the belief that he will eventually be raised and rewarded by God. In the refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 17) we proclaim our Faith: “Lord, when Your glory appears, my joy will be full!” The second reading encourages the Thessalonians who were waiting for the Parousia or the second coming of Christ, to trust in the fidelity of God Who would strengthen their hearts in every good work and word. The same theme of the resurrection of the dead is the basis of the confrontation described in today’s Gospel passage. In this confrontation, Jesus ingeniously escapes from a doctrinal trap set for him and explains the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, supported by the Pharisees and denied by the Sadducees. Jesus speaks of God as the God of the living and declares that heavenly life with God in glory is totally different from earthly life, explaining that there is no marriage in heaven in the earthly sense.
Life messages: 1) We need to live as people of the Resurrection This means that we are not to lie buried in the tomb of our sins and evil habits. Instead, we are to live joyful and peaceful lives, constantly experiencing the real Presence of the Risen Lord. In addition, the hope of our resurrection and eternal life with God provides us with lasting peace and celestial joy to counter the boredom and tension of our day-to-day lives. Cultivating our awareness of the all-pervading Presence of the Spirit of the living God will help us to control our thoughts, desires, words and behavior. The salutary thought of our own resurrection and eternal glory, or eternal punishment, should also inspire us to honor our bodies, keeping them holy, pure and free from evil habits, and to respect those with whom we come in contact, rendering them loving and humble service. 2) We need to offer living worship to a living God. If our God is the God of the living, our worship of this living God also has to be alive. That means our participation in prayers and songs during the Holy Mass should be active and our behavior in Church reverent, as we offer our lives and all our activities to our living God on the altar with repentant and grateful hearts.
OT 32 [C] (Nov 10) II Mc 7:1-2, 9-14; II Thes 2: 16–3:5; Lk 20: 27-38
Homily starter anecdotes: #1: Resurrection of the dead: The film Amadeus ends showing the funeral of the great musician Mozart. (https://youtu.be/vCY4ryE9uF ) He died at the age of 35. A genius as a composer, he never re-copied his compositions. He never had to make corrections, so the first draft was also the final copy. A child prodigy, he started playing several instruments at the age of four, wrote several symphonies by the age of eight and created at least 528 musical compositions before he died at age 35. He was a genius, whom one authority calls “one of the brightest stars in the musical firmament.” What a waste, that he should have died so young! It makes you wonder: is this life all there is? Imagine a beloved spouse, a darling parent or grandparent, a close friend, lying cold in the coffin. Is this life all there is? We try to comfort ourselves with the doctrine of the resurrection. We say: the genius of people like Mozart is not going to be wasted. The love of dear ones – the squeeze of their hands and the music in their voices – that love will be enjoyed in even greater intensity. A Sadducee in Jesus’ time might say, “I don’t believe it; the doctrine is absurd.” That was the point the Sadducees wanted to make by challenging Jesus in today’s Gospel, with an absurd story of a woman who married seven husbands.
# 2: Sign of the cross by Brezhnev’s wife: As Vice-President, George H. W. Bush represented the U.S. at the 1982 funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev who had been the president of the USSR for 18 years. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev’s widow, Mrs. Natalia. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev’s wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: she reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest. There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life, that that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that the same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband. [Gary Thomas, Christian Times (October 3, 1994), p. 26.] Today’s Gospel is Jesus’ teaching on the resurrection of the dead. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWiYmWgJLq4) (Gary Thomas, Christian Times, October 3, 1994, p. 26.)
# 3: The epitaph of Benjamin Franklin: In one of his lighter moments, Benjamin Franklin (one of the most important Founding Fathers of the United States: author, political theorist, politician, printer, scientist, inventor, civic activist, and diplomat), penned his own epitaph. It seems he must have been influenced by Paul’s teaching on the resurrection of the body. Here’s what he wrote: The Body of B. Franklin, the former printer lies here, food for worms, like the cover of an old book: its contents torn out, and stripped of its lettering and gilding. But the work shall not be wholly lost: for it will, as he believed, appear once more in a new & more perfect edition, corrected and amended by its Author. (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/franklin-epitaph.html ).
Introduction: As we near the end of the Church’s liturgical year, the readings become more eschatological — having to do with the end times. The main theme of today’s readings is the reality of life after death and of the relationship between our lives on earth and the life of glory or punishment that will follow. The readings invite us to consider the true meaning of the Resurrection in our lives. The first reading states the first century BC Jewish theology of martyrdom and the resurrection of the just. The intense sufferings to which good Jews were subjected brought them to the conviction that the justice of God would reward the faithful in the afterlife and would also punish the wicked. In the refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 17), we proclaim our Faith: “Lord, when Your glory appears, my joy will be full!” The Psalm itself reminds us to ask God to protect us from yielding to evildoers who would destroy us (and who will perish) and to bring us Home to Him after death: “Keep me as the apple of Your eye, hide me in the shadow of Your wings; …. But I in justice shall behold Your face: on waking I shall be content in Your Presence” (v. 8, 15) The second reading was meant to encourage the Thessalonians who were waiting for the Parousia (the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead), 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 same theme, the resurrection of the dead, is the basis of the confrontation described in today’s Gospel passage. Today’s Gospel affirms the victory of God and 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 and explained the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead which was supported by the Pharisees but denied by the Sadducees. Jesus also explains 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.
First reading: II Mc 7:1-2, 9-14 explained: A belief in Divine Judgment with reward or punishment for each of us after death, together with a lively hope for resurrection, is not clearly seen in the Jewish writings until the second century BC. I Maccabees, written in Hebrew by a Palestinian Jew, and II Maccabees, written in Greek by an Alexandrian Pharisee, both in the late second century BC, are named after Judas Maccabaeus, the hero of the war for Jewish independence against Antiochus IV Epiphanes who had wrested Egypt from the control of Ptolemy, King of Egypt, then raided the Temple in Jerusalem carrying off all its golden vessels and treasures. He next attempted to Hellenize the Jews by imposing Greek culture and idol worship on them under pain of torture and death. The Second Book of Maccabees is the story of invaders who had the job of convincing the Jews who remained faithful to the Law and Covenant, to give up their Faith. The invaders met with heroic resistance. In today’s passage, the resisters express their hope of resurrection, and this hope helps them defy their persecutors. The selection describes a Jewish family, consisting of a mother and her seven sons, who refused Antiochus IV Epiphanes’ command to eat pork, (forbidden as “unclean” by Jewish law). Because of their Faith and obedience to God, they endured suffering and accepted martyrdom. The conviction that the dead would be raised on the last day had not become widely accepted at that time, nor even by the time of Jesus. But in our first reading, three of the brothers speak, and each of them finds strength in the belief that he will eventually be raised by God. One says, “You may discharge us from this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up.” Another says that he hopes to receive his severed limbs again in heaven. The fourth son also says that he is “relying on God’s promise that we shall be raised up by Him.”
The second reading: II Thes 2: 16- 3:5 explained: Today’s second reading is comprised of three short prayers. In the first (2:16-17), and third (3:5), prayers, Paul asks that his readers remain constant in their commitment, bolstered by the knowledge that theirs is truly the work of the Gospel. In the second prayer (3:1-4), he asks that the community remember him and his ministry to God. Prayer prepares us and equips us to welcome even that most dreaded moment of life and, in that moment, to embrace death as a passage through which we will come face to face with the God who calls us to Life Everlasting. Paul hints at the necessity of adjustment to an adverse religious environment in Thessalonica when he prays for the community’s endurance (II Thes 2:16-3:5). The belief that the Parousia, or the “second coming of Jesus in glory,” was just around the corner, was common among the Thessalonian Christians. So Paul was anxious about three things: i) keeping the Thessalonian Christians from getting off track in their excitement about the end, ii) getting the word of God spread as far as possible while there was still time, and iii) keeping them steadfast and faithful to the Gospel. “May the Lord,” he writes, “direct your hearts to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ.”
Gospel exegesis: The context: Jesus had reached Jerusalem for his final Passover feast. He wept over Jerusalem, cleansed the Temple and started teaching there. As part of a well-planned plot to trap Jesus, the chief priests, the scribes and the Pharisees approached him with two controversial questions: i) “Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things and who is it who gave you this authority?” (Lk 20:2), and ii) “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” (Lk 20:22). Learning that Jesus had ingeniously escaped from the first two traps, the Sadducees, in today’s Gospel lesson, asked a question concerning the marital state after the resurrection. The challenge to Jesus was clear: do you believe in the written Torah which is silent on the resurrection, or do you side with the Pharisees, accepting their belief in the resurrection based on oral traditions and interpretations, and thus subjecting Moses to ridicule?
Afterlife theology of the Pharisees: The Pharisees were an entirely religious group with no political ambitions and were content with any government which gave them religious freedom. They accepted both the Torah and the Prophets as authoritative Scripture, and they relied heavily on oral tradition to understand Scripture. They observed all the regulations and rules of the oral and ceremonial law, such as the Sabbath laws and the laws about ritual handwashing. The Pharisees believed in, and hoped for, the coming of the Messiah. They believed also in the resurrection of the dead, in angels, in spirits and in fate, i.e., that a man’s life was planned and ordered by God. The word “resurrection” does not appear in the Pentateuch (Torah), but the beginnings of the concept are found in Job 19:26; Psalm 16:10; 49:15; Isaiah 25:8; 26:16-19; Daniel 12:2; and Hosea 13:14. “Those who had died would be raised so that they too could receive their due reward.” (Daniel [165 BC]:12:2). Ezekiel 37 recounts the prophet’s vision of dry bones rising to life, but the image refers to the Jewish nation rather than to individual persons. The idea of the resurrection is further developed in the Deuterocanonical books (see II Mc 7).
Heaven-on-earth theology of the Sadducees: The Sadducees constituted a party of wealth, power and privilege, which controlled the Temple worship. Although few in number, the Sadducees were the Jewish governing class, and they supported Roman rule. Nearly all priests were Sadducees. They acknowledged only written Scripture as bearing God’s word, accepting only the first five books of the Hebrew Bible as authoritative; they rejected the oral tradition which Pharisees found necessary for applying God’s revealed word to everyday life. They gave the writings of the prophets a lower place in their system. The Sadducees believed in unrestricted free-will and not in fate or Divine Providence. They assumed that we control our own destinies through our personal actions. They rejected the idea of the resurrection, because it was not found in the Torah. Nor did they believe in the coming of the Messiah.
The trap: When the Sadducees saw that Jesus had silenced the emissaries of the Sanhedrin, they confronted him with a question ridiculing the belief in the resurrection of the dead about which, they claimed, Moses had written nothing. Their question put Jesus in a no-win political position. If Jesus defended the concept of the resurrection, he would displease the Sadducees. If he failed to do so, he would displease the Pharisees. Thus, either way, he would alienate a part of the crowd. The Sadducees’ question was based on the Levirate Law of marriage included in the Mosaic regulations, and hence was regarded as binding by the Sadducees. That law provided for the economic and social security of widows in a Jewish society where women had no legal rights and could not earn wages [Dt 25:5-10] According to that law, if a man died childless, his brother must marry the widow and beget children to carry on the line. In their hypothetical question, they asked Jesus who, in Heaven, would be the husband of the woman who had been married in succession to seven of her brothers–in-law (“levires”), and had died childless. Jesus turns their insincere query into an occasion for genuine teaching. First, he draws a sharp distinction between “this age” (our earthly life) and “that age” (life at the resurrection or life after death). He makes it clear that the resurrection is not simply a continuation of earthly life. He speaks here of the resurrection not of everyone but only of “those judged worthy of a place in the age to come.”
Going on the offensive as defense: Jesus begins his counterargument by pointing out the Sadducees’ ignorance about the existence and nature of life after death with God. He refutes their misconception that eternal life is in this world. Then Jesus goes on the offensive, making two points. First, he provides positive Biblical proof for the reality of resurrected existence: God said to Moses from the burning bush, “I AM the God of your Fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Ex 3:1-6). Jesus here presumes that Yahweh’s burning bush statement is in the present tense. Since God is claiming at the time He is speaking to Moses that He IS God of the patriarchs, these three patriarchs must still alive at the time of Moses, 600 years after their deaths. So God must somehow be sustaining the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by granting them resurrection and eternal life. Thus, Jesus uses the Sadducees’ sacred text of the Torah to respond to their anti-resurrection belief, and therefore, the resurrection of the body can be proved from the Torah itself. Second, Jesus explains that the afterlife won’t be just an eternal replay of this life. Things will be different after we die. Normal human relations, including marriage, will be transformed. Then Jesus tells the Sadducees (who denied angels and spirits), that those whom God considers worthy of the resurrection and heavenly life with Him are immortal, like the angels and hence are “children of God.”
Teaching of the Church: According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, our belief in the resurrection is based upon a faith-relationship with God as Creator. “God revealed the resurrection of the dead to His people progressively” (CCC #992). Resurrection is implied in the earlier books of the Old Testament, becomes clearer in the later books and is emphatically asserted in II Maccabees (Ex 3:6; Jb 19:25-26; Ps 16:9-10; 49:15; 73:24; Hos 6:1-2; Dn 12:2). The teaching of Jesus and the Apostles on this topic is crystal clear in the New Testament [Mt 26:17-31, 31-46, 28:1-10, Mk 16:1-8, Jn 3:16, 5:29, 11:1-57, 11:25-26, 2:19, 20:1-18, 20:10-18, Acts 1:1-11, 2:23-24, Rom 1:3-4, 4:25, 5:8, 10:9, 1 Cor 1:15, 1:18, 15:1-58, Heb 11:1, 12:2, 1 Thes 4:13-18, 1 Jn 3:16, 2 Tm 1:10.] Hence, the whole of Christian theology is based on the belief in our resurrection and everlasting life of reward or punishment.
Life messages: 1) We need to live as people of the Resurrection: This means that we are not to lie buried in the tomb of our sins and evil habits. 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. In addition, the hope of our resurrection and eternal life with God gives us lasting peace and celestial joy amid the boredom and tension of our day-to-day lives. An awareness of the all-pervading presence of the Spirit of the living God [Jn 11:27; Acts 14:14; Rom 9:26; 1 Thes 1:9; 1 Tm 3:15, 4:10, 6:17; 2 Cor 3:3, 6:16; Heb3:12, 9:12, 10:31, 12:22; Rv 7:2] will help us to control our thoughts, desires, words and behavior. The salutary thought of our own resurrection and eternal glory should also inspire us to honor our bodies, keeping them holy, pure, and free from evil habits, and to respect those with whom we come in contact, rendering them loving and humble service.
2) We need to offer living worship to a living God. The reason we come together each week to pray for the needs of the community, share the Word and break the Bread is that we have Faith and Hope in a living God Who loves us and Whom we love. If God is the God of the living, should not worship of this God also be alive? Our worship services and relation to God must be life-giving rather than life-draining experiences. Unfortunately, Holy Mass and other worship services are often described as “dead” or “boring.” Even Church volunteers sometimes complain of being exhausted in their work. The proclamation that our God is the God of the living has to mean something positive to us. It should affect our lives today and every day, especially during our Sunday worship. In response to Him, our participation in prayers and songs during the Holy Mass should be active and our behavior in Church reverent, though not gloomy. As we continue our Eucharist celebration and gather around the Table of the Lord, let us give thanks to Almighty God for this foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet that awaits us in the place that God has prepared for us.
JOKE OF THE WEEK: 1) An elderly priest of our diocese was asked, “Do you believe in purgatory?” He answered, “Not only do I believe in purgatory, I’m counting on it!”
2) Sign boards found on church property. A singing group called “The Resurrection” was scheduled to sing at a church. When a big snowstorm postponed the performance, the pastor fixed the outside sign to read, “The Resurrection is postponed.”
3) When is the Resurrection? A very zealous, soul-winning young preacher came upon a farmer working in his field. Being concerned about the farmer’s soul the preacher asked the man, “Are you laboring in the vineyard of the Lord, my good man?” Not even looking at the preacher and continuing his work the farmer replied, “Naw, these are soybeans.” The young, determined preacher tried again asking the farmer, “Are you prepared for the resurrection?” This caught the farmer’s attention and he asked, “When’s it gonna be?” Thinking he had accomplished something the young preacher replied, “It could be today, tomorrow, or the next day.” Taking a handkerchief from his back pocket and wiping his brow, the farmer remarked, “Well, don’t mention it to my wife. She doesn’t get out much and she’ll wanna go all three days.”
4) A grown man, half-jokingly, half in earnest, explains his fear of flying: “Suppose the plane blows up in the air and I am blown to pieces. At the resurrection of the body, God will certainly find it difficult to assemble all my shattered pieces. I’d rather die as one piece so I will be among the first to raise whole from the dead.”
5) During a recollection for a group of high school students, a boy voiced out a problem: “My eldest brother was born ten years ahead of me, but he died when he was only two years old. My mother died when she was 50 years old. Suppose I die at 60 and then meet my brother and my mother in heaven, would I be older than either of them?”
20 Additional anecdotes:
1) Fight like a man: A Church Elder came by to visit the new pastor one Sunday afternoon. He had been a highly respected member of this congregation for over 25 years. While they were sitting on the back porch of the parsonage, the man said, “Pastor, I’ve got something to tell you. I’ve never told this to a soul, … it’s extremely difficult to tell you this now, … my wife and I … have argued … or had a fight almost every day … for the past 30 years … of our marriage.” The pastor was taken back. He nervously took a sip of his coffee. He wasn’t sure what to say. After a brief pause, the young Pastor said, “Every day?” “Yes, … just about … every day.” “Did you fight today, before you came to church?” “Yes.” …. “Well, how did it end up?” “She came crawling to me on her hands and knees.” “My Goodness! What did she say?” “Come out from under that bed you coward, and fight like a man!” (Pause). Well, our Gospel lesson today recalls the friction, the arguing, and the fighting that was going on between the Pharisees and the Sadducees almost every day during this Biblical period. (Rev. J. Jeffrey Smead). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
2) “I wouldn’t mind a few more years”: Father Mark Granito illustrates from his personal experience how we are tied down to this world of miseries in spite of our Faith in the Resurrection and everlasting life. “My mother died four years ago this month. I remember we used to celebrate her birthday in May, and I’d always take her out to some nice restaurant. When she turned 80, she said, “Well, I’m 80 now…that’s a very big number. There won’t be many more years left now.” At 81 and 82 she said, “It’s a big number! No one in my family has lived this long!” Occasionally, she’d say, “I wish God would take me! I’m fed up! I’m fed up with being sick! I’m ready to go on to Heaven!” And then she said, “I wonder what heaven is like…I hear you float around up there….!” Strangely, just a few weeks before she died, she said, “You know, I’m ready to go, but I wouldn’t mind a few more years…” Perhaps most priests have had similar experiences in their pastoral life in ministering to terminally ill patients who are unwilling to die in spite of their strong Faith in a heavenly reward awaiting them, as mentioned in today’s readings. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
3) Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: You are middle-aged or older if you remember when the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was first released. It was an exuberant, fast-paced musical about seven brothers on the frontier of the United States who were all looking for brides. Such “commodities” were rare in their part of the world. But, of course, in the end each brother got his bride. The story in our Gospel passage for today is about one bride for seven brothers, but the end of the story is not as happy and upbeat as was the movie. The story is part of a “knock-down, drag-out” debate or argument between Jesus and some of his most powerful opponents. (https://youtu.be/QbzJtP75NqM) . (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
4) The story of a gamomaniac: Karl Shaw tells in his book Oddballs and Eccentrics about Charles Radclyffe, the fifth Earl of Derwentwater. Shaw calls Radclyffe a gamomaniac. Gamomania is an obsessive disorder characterized by persistent proposals of marriage. Charles Radclyffe proposed on fifteen occasions to the reluctant Countess of Newburgh who became so annoyed by the constant harassment that she bolted herself in her home and gave instructions to her servants to throw him off the property on sight. The Earl finally found a way into her house by climbing on to her roof and lowering himself down the chimney into her drawing room where, black from soot, he made his sixteenth marriage proposal. This time his persistence paid off and she agreed to marry him. (Castle Books, p. 11) I guess he had finally worn her down. That’s a remarkable story. Fifteen rebuffs, and he had to climb down a chimney before she accepted his proposal! That story is almost as extraordinary as a riddle that some of the Sadducees posed for Jesus in today’s Gospel of a woman married to seven successive husbands. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
5) “10,000 space capsules up there flying around?” When the United States government got ready to launch the space program, some of the people who were opposed to the project asked, “What are we going to do when we get 10,000 of those things up there flying around?” That may have been an intelligent question, but those who asked it had stretched the whole space program out of proportion in order to make a point. In an effort to thwart the space program and make it look ridiculous, they imagined the heavens filled with space capsules. The Sadducees did not believe in the theory of resurrection, and in an effort to present an argument against it, they reduced the doctrine to the point of absurdity by telling a story found in the Book of Tobit of seven brothers who in succession married the same woman. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
6) Vietnam Veterans Memorial artist on death and after life: Last spring, Maya Ying Lin stunned the architectural world when she won the nationwide design competition for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial which was to be built on the Mall near the Lincoln Memorial. In an interview with Phil McCombs of the Washington Post, she shared some insights about death and our uneasiness with it. It is interesting to see ourselves through the eyes of this twenty-two-year-old Asian. She said: “We are supposedly the only creature that realizes its mortality … Man reacts to that by denying its existence. We don’t tell children about it. We say someone ‘went away, passed away.’ We can’t admit it to ourselves. That’s always disturbed me. If you can’t be honest about something that fundamental, if you tell little kids, ‘He’s just gone away,’ it’s just an unbelievable lie.” If the whole idea of resurrection is an unbelievable lie, perhaps a part of the reason is that we refuse to break out of the molds, relationships and structures that we currently find meaningful but which can be a stumbling block when we try to carry them forward into another life. Today’s Gospel gives us Jesus’ teaching on resurrection of the dead and the nature of their life after death. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
7) Warren Buffett’s fear of death: Warren Buffett, a financial investment genius and the second-richest man in America, has his doubts about life beyond the grave, and it worries him. Buffett admits, “There is one thing I am scared of. I am afraid to die.” His biographer Roger Lowenstein writes: “Warren’s exploits were always based on numbers, which he trusted above all else. In contrast, he did not subscribe to his family’s religion. Even at a young age, he was too mathematical, and too logical, to make the leap of faith. He adopted his father’s ethical underpinnings, but not his belief in an unseen Divinity.” And thus Warren Buffet, one of the most successful men in the world, is stricken with one terrifying fear–the fear of dying. On a lighter note, Buffett once said, “What I want people to say when they pass my casket is, “Boy, was he old!” [Roger Lowenstein, “Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist,” found in Thoughts of Chairman Buffett, compiled by Simon Reynolds (New York: Harper Business, 1998).] Today’s Gospel tells us about the prospect of a resurrected life with God in Heaven. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
8) Apple from the Garden of Eden: Anthony DeMello S.J. tells the story of a Muslim holy man who had just finished preaching. A heckler (cynic) from the audience shouted, “Instead of spouting spiritual theories why don’t you show us something practical?” Somewhat surprised, the holy man asked, “What kind of practical thing do you want me to show you?” The man, pleased that he had made the speaker uncomfortable and that he was making an impression on the audience, replied, “For instance, show us an apple from the Garden of Paradise.” Immediately the holy man bent down and picked up an apple from his shoulder bag and handed it to his questioner. “But this apple is bad on one side,” said the man. “Surely a heavenly apple would be perfect.” “True,” said the Mullah, “but given your present faculties, this is as near to a heavenly apple as you will ever get.” How are we to see a perfect apple with imperfect eyes? The same situation confronted the Sadducees in today’s Gospel lesson when they faced Jesus with a ridiculous question on the marital relationship in heaven. St. Paul said: “Eye has not seen nor ear heard what God has in store for those that love him.” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
9) Hope of reincarnated resurrection: A story came out of China sometime back that was heartbreaking. Fifty-one peasant girls seeking a better position in life committed suicide in 15 separate group-drownings in Jiangxi province, China. Many of the despairing teenagers dressed in their best clothes before jumping, in order to present a good image to the gods of the other-world. They were hoping to be reincarnated as rich, sophisticated city women. [The Comedian Who Choked .. . . . by the Editors of Fortean Times (Cader Books, New York, 1996), p. 57.] As people used to say, “They are so heavenly-minded that they are no earthly good.” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
10) “It’s time to rest, to go home, be with God and with my husband.” The Reverend George Alexander tells a profoundly moving story about a woman he met when he was beginning his clinical pastoral education. She was 71 years old. Alexander was 24. “The Lord’s been good to me but my husband’s gone, my children are grown; it’s time to rest, to go home, be with God and with my husband.” Alexander, with the inexperience of youth, thought she was afraid of surgery. So he reassured her. “Oh,” she said, “these are fine doctors and the nurses are great but I’ve had a good life, a full life, I’m ready to go home.” The young pastor-to-be was baffled in the face of her contentment; she was calm. Nurses came to take her to surgery and she asked him to read the 23rd Psalm. He read it, she shouted it and the nurses joined in what became, says Alexander, an unforgettable moment of joy. He later went to see her but the nurses met him, told him, before this elderly woman of Faith could be put to sleep, she went to sleep; she went to be with God. Here is how George Alexander sums up his experience: “I’d listened critically with ears and mind but my heart knew. I named the voice of God fear, accepted the joy in her life and denied her enthusiasm about death. I stood next to eternity and couldn’t accept it.” (http://www.stcatherines.org/RevAlexanderSermons.html). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
11) Film –The Day After: When the movie The Day After was shown on television in 1983, it caused quite a controversy. (https://youtu.be/Iyy9n8r16hs ) This was because it was focused on the ultimate What if– the event of a global nuclear war. What if the population of Kansas City is instantly reduced to vaporized silhouettes; What if the blistered wounded are doomed to die; What if some survivors are surrounded by radioactive fallout that settles like a fine white dust all over the earth? The Day After was intended primarily to provoke serious reflection and discussion about nuclear disarmament. But it also provokes questions about our Faith. Would a good God allow such a terrifying evil to happen? Why do we have to die at all? Is there really a resurrection? -Today’s readings suggest some answers to these questions, not in the sense of complete explanations, but in the sense of strengthening our Faith in Jesus Christ, the Risen Son of the Living God. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
12) Perfect “Time out.” I was watching a college football game. It was between the University of Clemson and North Carolina State. It turned out to be a fantastic game full of all kinds of drama. With only a few seconds to go North Carolina State was in position to win the game with a field goal. Just before the ball was snapped the head coach of Clemson called a quick time out. He wanted to rattle the place-kicker. He had already missed a couple of field goals and I’m sure Clemson’s coach thought if the young man was interrupted that perhaps some doubt and fear would overcome him and he would miss again. Well, Clemson’s strategy worked perfectly. The young man tried his best but he was off by a couple of feet and the game went into overtime where Clemson went on to win the game. I was amazed at the precise timing of Clemson’s time out. It was faultless. It was called with just enough time to get into the young man’s mind and create some doubt in his ability to kick the field goal. It was done just at the right time to rattle him. And it worked. Our passage in Luke this morning deals with a time in Jesus’ life that the same type of devilish strategy was being attempted on Jesus. (Rev. Emie Arnold). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
13) Beware of “curve balls.” A successful major league batter gets a hit only 30 percent of the time he comes to bat. One of the ways pitchers lower these chances even further is by throwing a curveball. A curveball is a pitch that appears to be moving straight toward home plate but that is actually moving down and to the right or left by several inches. Obviously, a pitch that curves is going to be harder to hit than a fastball that is moving straight. Any baseball pitch begins with how the pitcher grips the ball. To throw a curveball, a pitcher must hold the baseball between his thumb and his index and middle fingers, with the middle finger resting on the baseball seam. When the pitcher comes through his motion to throw the ball, he snaps his wrist downward as he releases the ball, which gives the ball topspin. The spinning action created when the pitcher releases the ball is the secret behind the curveball. This spinning causes air to flow differently over the top of the ball than it does under the ball. This imbalance of force is called the Magnus Effect, named for physicist Gustav Magnus, who discovered in 1852 that a spinning object traveling through liquid is forced to move sideways. To play the game correctly you have to watch the spin. In public relations, spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through providing an interpretation of an event or campaign to persuade public opinion in favor or against a certain organization or public figure. While traditional public relations may also rely on a “creative” presentation of the facts, “spin” often implies disingenuous, deceptive and/or highly manipulative tactics. For year, businesses have used fake or misleading customer testimonials by editing/spinning a customer’s clients to reflect a much more satisfied experience than was actually the case. Another spin technique involves a delay in the release of bad news so it can be hidden in the shadow of more important or favorable news or events. The Sadducees in today’s Gospel text were all concerned about marriages and the afterlife and who is going to married to whom and Jesus breaks all that up because he says in describing Heaven that life there is not as it is on earth. (Rev. Amiri Hooker). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
14) Life is full of questions isn’t it? We start asking questions quite young. Can’t you remember that younger brother or sister, nephew, niece or grandchild who kept on asking you “Why?” Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? Why do I have to go to the dentist? Why can’t I have my cake before supper? Why? Why? Why? Too many questions can drive you insane. You probably ask a lot of them too. Our lives are filled with more ‘questions’ than ‘answers’. Humans are the only species on this planet which have this powerful, even maddening capacity to reason, to imagine, to doubt and to question. The animals that I have had, even the smartest ones, do not question things, but they react to things. People however, raise questions concerning things they know little or nothing about. We have strange and even complicated curiosity. We encourage our children to raise questions, because asking questions can make us make us smart, or maybe it will turn us into what my mother called me a couple of times, a ‘smart aleck’. Certainly, in the Sadducees in today’s Scripture could have been called ‘smart alecks’. Several times in this chapter various religious leaders come to Jesus with questions. In fact, the whole chapter is built upon 4 questions, 3 of which came from religious leaders themselves and one of which came from Jesus. All the questioning in this chapter starts with one very big, leading question: “Tell us, (Jesus) by what authority are you doing these things?” The question that comes in our text near the end of the chapter builds upon this one. The Sadducees, as Luke explains– ‘those who say there is no resurrection’—came to ask Jesus a question (vs. 27) about the resurrection they did not believe in. Of course, they were trying to trick Jesus into giving a wrong answer. The answer they got gave them a big surprise. The greatest rabbi in Judaism often answered questions by raising even bigger questions. It was a culture which said you ought to think through and answer the biggest questions yourself. ( Rev. Dr. Charles J. Tomlin). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
15) Apple or Android? Toyota or Honda? Hardwood or laminate? What kind of hard choices have you had to make recently? If you’re in the market for a car, you’ll do your research because you don’t want to pay good money for a vehicle that will break down in a couple of years. But with so many choices out there how can you be certain that you’ll pick the right one? You can never be sure that the car, computer, or condo you buy will live up to the vendor’s claims, but there’s not much you can do about it. Like everyone else you’ll have to plunk down your money and hope for the best. Thankfully that’s not how we have to handle mankind’s biggest question: “Is there life after death?” In our homily text today Jesus assures us that there is life after death because we can trust God’s power, and we can trust God’s pronouncements. (Rev. Daniel Habben). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
16) In front of St. Peter at the pearly gates. A man opens his eyes and realizes he’s in front of St. Peter at the pearly gates. Immediately St. Peter said, “It’s not so easy getting into Heaven. There are some criteria to be met before entering. “For example,” Peter said, “were you religious? Did you attend Church? Were you generous; give money to the poor? What about charities? Do you do any of these things?” The man sheepishly said, “No.” “Oh, that’s bad,” Peter mumbled. “Well, did you do any good deeds? …help your neighbor? Anything?” The man only shook his head. “Look,” Peter said, “everybody does something nice sometime. Work with me! I’m trying to help. Now think!” The man’s face took on a smile then he said. “There was this old lady. See, I came out of the store and found her surrounded by a dozen mean bikers. They had her purse and were shoving her, taunting and abusing her. So, I threw down my bags and fought through the crowd, got her purse back and helped her to her feet. Then I went up to the biggest biker and told him how despicable, cowardly and mean he was then spat in his face.” “Wow,” Peter said, “that’s impressive. When did this happen?” The man replied, “Oh, about 10-minutes ago.” The Master must have felt like the beleaguered old lady with the Sadducees, serving as the mean bikers, constantly going against Him. This time, the Sadducees were coming at Jesus in our focus scripture of Luke 20:27 through 38, with their disbelief in the resurrection of the soul. (Rev. Joe Tilton). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
17) People often ask me about Heaven. Will my grandpa and grandma be there? Will they be the same age- will they like the same things they like(d) on earth? How about my little poodle, “Itty Bit”? Will my pets and my friends be in Heaven? From time to time, I am asked these questions and generally I answer, “I don’t know.” I don’t have a definitive answer to most of these questions because Heaven is something that still awaits me. In his great vision (Rv 21), John saw streets of gold and pearly gates, but there is no mention of what our relationships with one another and “daily” life will be like in Heaven. It will be a new thing for those of us on earth. I look forward to it with all my heart, but I don’t have answers to many of the questions I receive. I have opinions, but they’re only opinions. I know many, many people who expect to live with their spouse when they get to Heaven, but I also know people who would consider such a reunion to be “hell.” Indeed, apart from God’s grace, I don’t even know if those who are asking me about Heaven will actually get to Heaven! People wonder about Heaven. My son died when he was just 3, grandpa lived to be 103- will the one be forever a toddler and the other forever old? Will there be diapers in Heaven? Baseball? Lawyers? My brother’s always been fat- will he be obese in Heaven? I don’t know, I don’t know… but I do know that the river of life runs through Heaven, and I know that the Communion we share in Church is just a foretaste of the banquet we will share, face-to-face, with our Lord and our God. I don’t know what will be served, but I do know that the least will be first. I don’t know who will be in heaven and who won’t be, but I do know that Heaven will be filled with forgiven sinners- some of whom gave their lives for Christ and some of whom cried out, “Remember me,” with their dying breath. I don’t what we will do in Heaven, but I pray that Heaven won’t involve any committee meetings. I don’t know whether Heaven will be filled with traditional or contemporary Christian music, but I do know that Heaven will be a place of worship and response. I also know that, in Heaven, we will finally be free of self and able, at last, to love God with all of our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves. Heaven will be a place of humility. Every knee will bow to Christ and every tongue will confess Him as Lord. I don’t know whose names will be written in the Book of Life, but I know that Heaven will be filled with people who lived lives marked by the fruit of the Spirit. I also know that everyone in Heaven will be childlike, and that Heaven will be a place without hospitals, or prisons, or graveyards. There will be no violence, no betrayal, no manipulation, no scorecards; nor will there be any Alzheimer’s, or cancer, or addiction, not even any knee replacements in Heaven. In today’s Gospel Jesus gives the answer. (Rev Ken Shedenhelm). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
18) Riddles answered by Jesus: There are no riddles with Christ because He will always tell the truth and no one can outsmart Jesus because He is God! Let’s start with some fun; many of you will recognize them right away, so if that is you, please don’t answer. What is it? A box without hinges, key, or lid; Yet golden treasure inside is hid. [An egg]. What has roots as nobody sees, Is taller than trees, Up, up it goes, And yet never grows? [A mountain]. It cannot be seen, cannot be felt, cannot be heard, cannot be smelt. It lies behind stars and under hills, And empty holes it fills. It comes first and follows after, ends life, kills laughter. [Darkness]. This thing all things devours: Birds, beasts, trees, flowers; Gnaws iron, bites steel; Grinds hard stones to meal; Slays king, ruins town, and beats high mountain down. [Time]. These were riddles between Bilbo Baggins and Gollum in the book The Hobbit! What’s the purpose of riddles? Riddles are used for trying to outsmart another person! We will note 2 riddles in our Gospel passage today. What were they, why were they asked, and what were the answers? (Rev. Paul Clemente). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
19) There is no resurrection just as there is no life outside mother’s womb! In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.” “Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?” The second said, “ I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouth. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.” The first replied,” That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous ! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.” The second insisted,” Well I think there is something, and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.” The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover, if there is life, then why has no one ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere. ” Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.” The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?” The second said.” She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.” Said the first: “Well I don’t see her, so it is only logical that she doesn’t exit.” To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and listen, you can hear Her loving voice, calling.” Does that sound like the Sadducees’ argument in today’s gospel? (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
20) Reward after the resurrection: A priest died and went to the Pearly Gates. Resplendent in his clerical collar and colorful robes he’s waiting in line and just ahead of him is a guy dressed in sunglasses, a loud shirt, leather jacket, and jeans. Saint Peter addresses this guy, “Who are you, so that I may know whether or not to admit you into heaven?” The guy replies, “I’m Joe Green, New York City taxi-driver.” Saint Peter consults his list, smiles and says to the taxi-driver, “Take this silken robe and golden staff, and enter.” So, the taxi-driver enters Heaven with his robe and staff, and the minister is next in line. Without being asked, he proclaims, “I am Rev. Michael O’Connor, pastor of Saint Mary’s for the last forty-three years.” Saint Peter consults his list and says, “Take this cotton robe and wooden staff and enter into Heaven.” “Just a minute,” says the pastor, “that man was a taxi-driver, and you gave him a silken robe and golden staff. But I get a cotton robe and wooden staff? How can this be?” “Up here, we go by results,” says Saint Peter. “When you preached, people slept — when he drove, people prayed.” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)L/19
Prepared by: Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604.