- We are approaching the end of the liturgical year, and the Church invites us to reflect on the reality about the last events in our earthly life.
- Somehow the question for us today is: how is my faith in the resurrection of the dead?
- Do I really believe that I will be raised up like Jesus is risen?
- Nobody asks me if I understand the question , they ask me if I believe what I say every Sunday standing among the members of the congregation "I believe in the resurrection of the dead and in the life eternal." Am I conscious of what I am saying or do I just repeat words without any meaning for me?
SECOND BOOK OF THE MACCABEES
v The second book of the Maccabees is not the continuation of the first, some chapters in both books overlap 1Mc 3-7 and 2Mc 8-15 have many similarities. .
v These two books tell us how Israel fell under the influence of the Hellenistic culture, and how did the people deal with this situation. Some remained faithful to the traditions and beliefs of their fathers, others let themselves be assimilated into the new culture that surrounded them.
v We are talking about a period of history that reached its highest point in Athens during the V century before Christ.
v Up to that time Israel had experienced the influence of the kingdoms from the East, that is from the Middle East. The influence of the Greek culture puts Israel and other peoples under the influence of the Western culture.
v These two books tell about the resistance of the faithful of Israel to be assimilated into the Greek culture. The author reflects on several points of interest for the faith of Israel and for our faith too. We also live surrounded by a foreign culture different from the culture of our fathers, and we also experience its influence, which questions some aspects of our faith. Let us see some of these points:
· Israel by its behavior changes the blessings from God into curses. The evil the people suffer is the consequence of its own behavior, the consequence of the choices of each person. Either we chose to be with God, or we chose to be far from God, ignoring his presence in our life.
· Martyrdom, that is the possibility for the human being to be faithful to the rules and demands of his or her faith up to the point of giving up his or her own life.
· Martyrdom is the consequence of the fidelity and love of God, and the faith in the life after death.
· Thus faith in the resurrection of those who have died in the Lord.
v The books of the Maccabees are among the "Deuterocanonical books" that is the books which the Catholic Church considers revealed and which are not accepted by the Jewish faith and by the other Christian traditions.
FIRST READING: 2 Mc 7:1-2, 9-14
ü This part of the book of the Maccabees tells us the story of seven brothers and their mother who preferred to die instead of eating pork, because the law of God forbade it.
ü Maybe we think that it is a nonsense to die instead of eating pork, because there is nothing wrong about eating pork, God has made all things right and good.
ü But the point is not to eat or not to eat pork, but to be faithful to our faith in God. In a word it is about clinging to God because we love him, and thus for his love we prefer to be faithful up to the point of giving up our own life.
ü As one of the psalms says "because your love is better than life"
ü For us, living in a very pragmatic culture, it is difficult to put faith first above our wellbeing even our life.
ü One of the young men that is tortured confesses his faith in the life after death, even more, he confesses his belief in the resurrection "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."
ü Another one of the young men says "It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope that God will give life to me again."
ü This reading calls us to look into our inner being and ask ourselves how is our faith and love for God, do we love him to the point of being able to give up our life for him? It is certainly truth that martyrdom is a gift and a call from God, by ourselves we cannot suffer it, but we can ask ourselves about how is the thermometer of our love.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM 17:1.5-6.8.15
LORD WHEN YOUR GLORY APPEARS, MY JOY WILL BE FULL
Hear O Lord a just suit
attend to my outcry
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.
My steps have been steadfast in your paths
my feet have not faltered
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God.
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
Keep me as the apple of your eye
hide me in the shadow of your wings
But I in justice shall behold you face
on walking I shall be content in your presence.
Ø The author of this psalm tells his faith and love for God, repeating in some way the theme of the first reading.
Ø In his words we sense a deep trust in the love God has for him.
Ø His words are like fire which can help us to light up again the fire under the ashes of our daily worries and responsibilities.
GOSPEL Lk 20:27-38
Some Saducees, that is the group that did not believe in anything but what can be touched and seen, nothing else was true for them thus they did not believe in the resurrection after death.
They make fun of Jesus who speaks of the reality of life after death, and they present to him a situation which they invented which shows their lack of faith in anything spiritual, we may even say that this story is really disgusting
Apart from the theme of life after death which they do not believe in, their story shows their lack of respect for women, whom they see as an object of their fulfillment of the law, not as a person.
Jesus answers them saying that in the future life no one will be taken or given in marriage, because they will life forever.
He reminds them that God is the God of life, and makes them realize that this is a belief of Israel even from the time of Moses "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."
In some way Jesus wishes that they return to the faith they say they profess, that the faith in the resurrection is not a novelty but something which has existed from the beginning.
This gospel, even not being attractive, can give us the opportunity to see if we really believe that our God is the God of life, the God who calls us to live forever from the moment of our conception in our mother's womb, more than that, since the moment when God thought of us, and God is eternal. God thought of us and loved us because his name is Love.
SECOND READING 2 Tes 2:16-3,5
v The author of this letter asks God to strengthen his readers in every good deed and word
v He asks them to pray for him so that
· the word of God which he preaches may speed forward and be glorified as it did among them
· God may protect him from the evil one.
v He adds that he is sure that the word preached among them will continue to be fruitful in them.
v He ends this section of the letter asking God to lead them to the love of God and grant them the same endurance of Christ.
v This may also be our prayer.
Our Lord bore up this complains of this ungrateful creature, being pleased that I empty the cup but without consuming the gall, because as I had to count on him alone in so many situations, over the sea as upon the earth, he wanted to test my trust in his divine providence beforehand, and permitted me to go out without any other hope than to hope against all hope in His infinite providence and in his great goodness, sure that he would guide my steps toward the desired goal of my eternal happiness.. Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 107.
During that whole seven years, I was on the go from one town to another. I traveled alone and on foot. I had a canvas-backed map of Catalonia that I always carried with me, and on it I would mark the distances I traveled, as well as any resting places. I would walk for five hours in the morning and another five in the afternoon. Sometimes I had to walk through rain, other times through snow, or under the broiling sun of a summer's day. Summer caused me the most suffering because I always wore the same cassock and raincoat in summer as I wore in winter--and it got very hot. Furthermore my shoes and heavy woolen socks caused my feet to blister so badly that I sometimes had to walk with a limp. The snow also gave me a chance to practice patience, for when high snowdrifts covered the roads I couldn't recognize the landscape, and in trying to cross the drifts I would sometimes get buried in snow-filled ditches. Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 460.
CLARET, Antonio María Claret, Autobiografía.
PAGOLA, José A. Following in the Footsteps of Jesus. Meditations on the Gospels for Year C.
PARIS, María Antonia, Autobiografía
RAVASI, Gianfranco, Según las Escrituras, Año C.
La Biblia de Nuestro Pueblo . Luis Alonso Schökel.
The Catholic Study Bible -New American Bible.