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Homily for 32nd Sunday November 6-7, 2010

posted Nov 9, 2010, 12:34 PM by fathermark@stmaryshuntingburg.org

32 Sunday of the Year          

St. Mary's, Huntingburg

November 607, 2010


            The Second Book of Maccabees—our second reading—is one of the most recent books of the Old Testament, written only a hundred years before the birth of Christ.

It tells the story of the Israelite resistance to the oppression of foreign pagans, who were trying to make the Jews give up their faith and to worship, instead, their pagan gods.

The reading today is an abbreviated version of the story of seven Jewish brothers and their elderly mother, captured by the pagan king, who wants them to renounce their religion by eating pork ... in direct violation of Jewish law.

All seven brothers ... and eventually the elderly woman herself ... are tortured and executed, refusing to transgress the Holy Law of God.


            It's a wonderful story of courage and conviction and, ultimately, martyrdom ... from which we can all learn.

You and I are so often half-hearted in our faith ... so timid in our witness to our faith in Jesus Christ ...  sometimes so unwilling to make the sacrifices needed to live perfectly the law of God .

And so, you and I have a lot to learn from the firm faith, the strong conviction, the unwavering courage of that elderly woman and her seven sons.


            But what this reading—together with the Gospel—is  highlighting for us today is the family's hope in the resurrection.

Now, you and I take that for granted ... Jesus rose from the dead, and we hope to do likewise.

But belief in the resurrection, in fact, is absent in almost the whole Old Testament.

The Jewish people only gradually came to understand that God was offering them eternal life after death ... and we see that dawning belief expressed here, for one of the very first times, in the Second Book of Maccabees, only about 100 years before the birth of Jesus.


            And this fact explains the context of today's Gospel .

Jesus is confronted by the Sadducees—a Jewish group that didn't believe in the resurrection from the dead ... as the Pharisees did.

And so, in order to try to confuse Jesus, these Sadducees present this hypothetical situation: a woman marries seven brothers, one after the other, after each one dies prematurely ...

And so ... if there is a so-called "resurrection from the dead" ... ask the Sadducees ...  whose wife will she be ... since the woman had married all seven?

But Jesus doesn't take the bait ... he just says that the Sadducees have misunderstood what life after death will be like ...


            Well, so what?

The development of the Jewish belief in the resurrection is all very interesting ... but so what?

Well, I think these readings challenge us ... first of all ... if we really believe in the resurrection from the dead ... to ask ourselves if that belief impacts our daily living in anyway ...?

The hope of resurrection gave those seven brothers and their mother courage to face their sufferings, their obstacles, their temptations in this life ... can we say the same ...?

Does our faith in resurrection help us to face our sufferings ... the challenges of our daily lives ... our daily temptations ...?

Even more, the message of Jesus is more than that we will have newness of life later on ...

Jesus teaches us that ... because of our baptism into his death and his resurrection ... we have newness of life now ...

The Lord is empowering ... and requiring ... and gracing us ... to live in newness of life now ... his resurrected life ...  his life of love ... and generosity ... and care for others ... and forgiveness ... and reaching out to others  ... now ... today ... in our daily lives ...

Our belief in resurrection is more than a belief of life after death ... it is a belief in new life now .. and it is the challenge to live that newness of life today.