Homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: What a life!
By: Fr. Christian Eze
Homily for Sunday November 10 2019
First reading – Mac 7:1-2.9-14
Second reading – 2 Thess. 2:16-3:5
Gospel – Lk. 20:27-38
“… I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting”. These constitute the last part of the Apostles’ Creed which we shall recite/sing today just as we had always done every other Sunday or Solemnity. As it had often been (especially when it is sung) many would not reflect on the words of this Creed. But today, it would be important to appreciate again the wisdom of the Catholic Church in affirming her belief in the highlighted article “the resurrection of the dead”. Yes, we can see that this very article has posed challenges to men, not only in the time of Jesus but also ever after. St Paul met with the struggles of those who did not believe in the resurrection. The people of Athens stopped listening to him as soon as he mentioned the resurrection of the dead. – (Acts 17:32). Also, war broke out when Paul mentioned the resurrection of the dead – (Acts 23:6-7). The difference in Jesus’ and Paul’s own time from ours could only be that while those who did not believe in the resurrection had a name – Sadducees; we may not pin them down in such a particular name in our own time. But if we look closely, we see that the belief in the resurrection of the dead is as challenging in our time as it were then. The good question is: what is it that makes people nervous about the resurrection; what hope does it hold for those who profess their belief in it?
An important point is to note the fact that the resurrection of the body implies continuity of life – life everlasting. No wonder it precedes it in the Apostles Creed. One can rightly say that the fear is not of the resurrection as such; rather it is what life after the resurrection would look like. The troubling questions may include: shall I still posses my possession or will I be stripped of them? Will I recognize my children, wife and husband as mine? It is not a surprise then, why the contention of those who came to Jesus in today’s gospel was: “whose wife will she be at the resurrection?” To this worries of theirs, Jesus responded that such shall be far from the worries after the resurrection. In other words, resurrection and life everlasting does not mean the continuation of this very world of our kind. It is “the world to come” and not this very one. What we have now shall pass away first before the emergence of the new one. Sorry dear, I can see your pains in trying to reconcile the fact that your beautiful wife, handsome husband, shall pass away; yes, but I cannot help it, that mansion of yours, your car, that estate, wealth, power, offspring, name it. St Paul tells us: “those who have to deal with the world should not be engrossed in it…because the world as we know it is passing away” – 1 Cor. 7:31.
Jesus preached the reality of the resurrection both in His words and in His life. The Son of man had nowhere to lay his head – Matt 8:20. He had no possessions, no wife, and no children. I am not saying that we all must live that kind of life. As for Jesus, He was “destined to be [an abhorable] sign” – Lk. 2:34. I respect the wisdom of the Catholic Church. In the life of her priests and religious, she brings closer to us also the reality of hope in the resurrection. I just stumbled over this excerpt:
“To live in the midst of the world with no desire for its pleasures; to be a member of every family, yet belonging to none; to share all sufferings; to penetrate all secrets, to heal all wounds; to daily go from men to God to offer Him their homage and petitions; to return from God to men to bring them His pardon and hope; to have a heart of fire for charity and a heart of bronze for chastity; to bless and to be blest forever. O God, what a life! and it is yours, O Priest of Jesus Christ!”
Again, I am not saying that everyone must become a priest or religious. Like Jesus, these, are set for us as signs to the world pointing towards hope in the resurrection and the world to come. Think of the things for which you would want to kill yourself – wealth, power, fame, wife, husband, and children, name it. These are the things which by the virtue of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, these men and women give up. St Paul said: “if our hope had been for this life only, of all men, we are the most unfortunate” – 1 Cor. 15:19.
Thank God, there is something like the resurrection. Nothing in this world is worth dying for; when this earthly life is gone, whether sweet or sore, there shall come another which will not pass away – (cf. Preface for the dead). That matters much.