Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thirty-second Sunday

Imagine the Church’s wisdom in combining today’s readings. That frustrating Gospel scenario becomes a brilliant foil for the poignant and affecting story of the martyrdom of the seven Maccabee sons and their holy mother in the First Reading; these seven very real brothers; how unlike the seven fictional brothers of the Sadducees’ tale who are dropping like flies! Today’s First Reading is only an excerpt of the heart-rending story of those brave Jewish martyrs, a family tortured for refusing to break their covenantal “marriage” bond with the God of Israel, embodied in the dietary laws to which they adhered. For them eating pork would be idolatrous, and even more adulterous. They understand themselves as entirely dedicated to God. This is essential to who they are- they belong to God. They embrace this Mystery with courage and clarity. How like their blessed descendant Yeshua of Nazareth, Jesus our Lord whose food and deepest desire is to do the will of the Father who sent him. Imagine how his young heart must have been stirred when he first heard the story of his Maccabee forebears.

Like his ancestors, Jesus knows that God wants more for us. He has prepared a place for us. This is our destiny. Jesus wants us to be with him in God forever. And so with quiet power and self-assurance he proclaims, “God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living.” These words are not only a statement of doctrine, but more- self-revelation. For Jesus is himself the Resurrection and the Life. Resurrection is not a far off event but a Person, a Person who longs for us even now, and is continually drawing us into more abundant life.

Now we can resist, question endlessly like stubborn Sadducees, frustrate God’s desire for us or simply believe; believe the mystery, and allow God to be God for us, drawing us to himself, into himself. Then we will notice glimpses of his presence, tantalizing foretastes of the more we’re destined for. Like St. Stephen, as he is being stoned to death, we will see the heavens open. We will glimpse the Lord even now, minute by minute, drawing us into more and more abundant life. In God’s providence this will inevitably bring us to another plateau- of holy frustration as our desire outstrips our humanity. Flesh and blood, earth-bound, we may experience ourselves somehow suspended- longing for everlasting life in Christ and yet still here. Like Saint Paul we long to depart and be with Christ.  Let us set our minds and hearts on things that are above where Christ is. For truly we have died, our lives are hidden with Christ in God.

Photographs by Brother Brian..