THEME: Being Alive in God: Faith in Times of Crisis.
BY: Fr. Luke Ijezie.
Resp. Psalm: 17:1,5-6,8,15
We may begin this reflection by asking ourselves: What inpires my life in this world: Is it the desire of emerging successfully at every moment or the desire of living with God at every moment, even when life becomes a burden?
The readings of this 32nd Sunday of the year bring us face to face with what it means to believe in God. Faith in God comes into crisis when we find ourselves in danger, more especially, the danger of dying or being overcome.
Ordinarily, one believes that God would arise to deliver one from present danger or present death situation. Most of the time, the apparent religiosity of many people is anchored on breakthrough in this life or search for freedom from pain and any form of misfortune in this life. While the Christian faith teaches that God can grant these prayers and desires, the essence of the faith is not victory in this passing world but continuous living in the presence of God. In other words, true believers are never deterred by the danger of losing this mortal life because their faith is anchored on the life after death. They believe strongly that whatever happens to them in this life, whether good or bad, their real life remains in the presence of God. So before God, they are always alive. This is the main message of the readings of today, a message that Jesus particularly lets his interlocutors know in the Gospel from Luke 20:27-38. It is a message we hear from different perspectives in the first reading and second reading.
1. The case in the first reading, from 2Macc 7:1-2,9-14, may seem a bit fanatical to many modern readers who enjoy pork meat. But the issue is that of strongness of faith. What made the Maccabean brothers and their mother to remain faithful to their religious tradition is their strong belief that God would still restore their lives. Without this faith in life after life, they would have found a reason to compromise. The great obstacle to faith is when one thinks that everything ends in and with this world.
2. In the second reading from 2Thess 2:16-3:5, Paul speaks of eternal comfort and good hope which God gives us in order to strengthen us in our daily struggles. The comfort remains eternal and one needs faith and hope to receive it at the proper time. So we need not be discouraged by the contradictions and absurdities around us.
3. In the Gospel, Jesus makes it clear that life after death does not depend on the male issues we have here on earth or on the wife or husband we marry. Rather, eternal life is a life derived from anchoring one’s existence on God. All who have God as their life anchor are always alive in His presence, even if death strikes. Death for them is liberation to fuller life.
It demands strong faith to live with such conviction. Those who live believing that they are always alive in God are never discouraged by trials and failures. They know that life in God remains solid. They never compromise with evil and falsehood in order to brighten or lengthen this mortal life.
4. As a matter of fact, belief in the resurrection is a faith that sustains us in periods of crisis and insecurity. If our aim is to win this world with all its pomp and glory, any experience of failure will discourage us. This is the type of shallow religiosity we find in our society today. For many believers, the real aim is not heaven but success and breakthrough in this life. This is why prosperity gospel has become the fashion. Suffering and sacrifice are ridiculed, and the consequence is hypocritical religiosity that anchors itself on all forms of materialism and evil. Although we have have to struggle to succedd in this world, but once the kingdom of God is not at the centre, the kingdom of this world takes over, and there we easily get deceived by many forms of false messianism.
May the thirst for God’s presence continue to inspire our lives at every moment!
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