BY: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara.


(2 MACCABEES 7:1-2,9-14; 2 THESSALONIANS 2:16-3:5; LUKE 20:27-38)

The liturgy of the word on this Sunday, invites us to contemplate on the  mystery of God in relation to human death and life! Jesus assures us that there is life after death because our God is the God of the living and not of the dead. This ignites great hope. The Catechism of the Church teaches us that: “Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit” (CCC1817). What keeps us going as Christians is the hope that one day our lives would be better. It is the hope that “we shall see God face to face” (Rev 22, 4). It is the hope that, the fullness of life does not reside here on earth, but in the eternal kingdom of God.
The Second Book of Maccabees gives us an account of what happens when a faith is persecuted. We need not think that we Christians are the only ones persecuted. Even today there are places in the world where Jews are still persecuted and places where we Christians are persecuted. The challenge for all of us is to remain faithful to the truth that we have discovered in our lives and to listen to the truth of others without fear. It is so often fear of others and a fear of another way of looking at life that brings about persecution.

In the gospel, Jesus has reached Jerusalem. Luke is about to conclude the first of his two books written to Theophilus in which he has vividly described the journey of the Good News from Galilee to Jerusalem. On his arrival in Jerusalem, Jesus was aware of his busy schedule, being his last days as man. As the gospels tell us; we know about the triumphant entry into Jerusalem and the cleansing of the temple. We also hear about some last-minute confrontational dialogues with the different religious groups that were then present in Jerusalem: the chief priests and the scribes, the Herodians, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees. Some of these scenes are even better laid out in the Gospel of Matthew – Chief priests questioning Jesus on his authority and the Pharisees questioning Him on his final stand on the Law. Also, the Herodians, whom Luke refers to as ‘the agents’, questioning Him on his political stand and the Sadducees who today question Him on his belief in the resurrection. Luke seems less clear about the distinctions between these groups and their specific agenda. In any case, these dialogues look like a preparation for the final gang up that will lead to the last trial of Jesus.

It is far too easy for us to think of heaven as simply another version of earth and to think that the way things happen here is exactly how it happens in heaven. Jesus wants us to be clear that heaven is nothing like earth and yet is not entirely different. The mystery of incarnation and the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus would become meaningless if human beings cannot enjoy in eternity the fruits of Jesus’ actions. In other words, why should God become a man just to teach us how to enjoy life here on earth. As St Paul said, “if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ cannot have raised either, and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without substance”.

My brother and sisters, the Church reminds us of the importance of hope anchored on Christ, and on our resurrection in Him. She reminds us that if we valiantly persevere the temptations, hardships and persecutions of this life, we shall achieve our hope in Christ. Hence, we should always rejoice in the glorious future promised us by Christ, when we shall be filled with the vision of God’s glory.
God bless you!

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