Cusp-a point of transition, as from one historical period to the next;
the borders between the twelve astrological signs.
You are considered to be "on the cusp" if you were born
within a day or two of the beginning or end of any sign.

The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak, 1863; Albert Bierstadt

06 November 2010

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings of the Day

That the dead will rise
even Moses made known in the passage about the bush,
when he called out 'Lord, '
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;
and he is not God of the dead, but of the living,
for to him all are alive."
                                                                                           Luke 20:37-38

A few weeks ago the gospel ended with the words, “When the Son of Man comes will he find faith on earth?” As we approach the end of the liturgical year many of the selected readings have to do with end times. Many of the feasts we celebrate at this time echo that theme. We just celebrated All Saints and All Souls Days. In a couple of weeks we will celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King which will close the liturgical year. The end times are filled with apocalyptic visions that generate a lot of speculation.
In every tumultuous age people think that they are living in the end times. In the reading from Maccabees we hear of seven brothers who are tortured to death for their refusal to conform to the wishes of the Greeks who want them to eat forbidden food. They remained firm in their faith and obedient to Jewish law because they had hope in the resurrection. “It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up by him.”
This was a time of great tribulation for the Jews who wished to maintain their religious identity in the face of culture that was sweeping over them like a tsunami. They would ultimately prevail and drive their Greek overlords out and rededicate the Temple. The Jews commemorate this event every year when they celebrate Hanukah.
The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, nor in anything else that was not written in the Torah. In that respect they differed strongly with Pharisees who used the great body of tradition that had been handed on. The Sadducees were also collaborators with the Romans because they wanted to maintain their elite status among the Jews. In the gospel we hear the Sadducees trying to set a trap for Jesus. He has just answered the question whether it is lawful to pay taxes.
For the Sadducees, not only was the idea of resurrection beyond their belief, but according to the Law of Moses it was absurd. In a most improbable scenario of a woman who, according to the Law is married in succession to seven brothers, they try to catch Jesus up yet again. Jesus calls them on their sham question by reminding them that Moses calls the Lord the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and he is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
Jesus also indicates that the life of this world is absurd compared to the life of the “coming age.” We can “no longer die, for [we] are like angels; and [we] are like the children of God because [we] are the ones who will rise.” The things of this life will be meaningless, because they will have no bearing in the “coming age.” The Sadducees were concerned with the external observation of religion, that is observing laws and customs. The seven brothers in the first reading were men of faith. They were so willing to offer themselves up because their faith in the resurrection was so strong.
Jesus’ challenge to us is that if we wish to rise with him to new life in the resurrection, we should live in this life in such a way that the order of the new life is already in place.
Today’s liturgy affirms our faith that the dead rise again and our God-given hope of being restored to life after death. This faith and hope are founded in Jesus Christ, the first-born from the dead, the source of our eternal consolation and hope.
Our God is not the God of the dead but of the living, and our religion is not a religion of death but of resurrection and life.
Faith in eternal life has energized Christians for centuries. It has also, unfortunately, caused some of them to neglect the immediate task at hand: the right ordering of the world in preparation for the coming of the kingdom.
Today’s liturgy counteracts that tendency with a message of doing God's work on earth and giving our lives in service to all.
The King of the world will raise us up to live again forever. In the meantime, there are the burdens and challenges of life which must be met head-on if we are to be a kingdom of priests to serve our God and Father. (Gerald Darring)
-All too often Christians are faulted with a certain indifference toward earthly projects, as if one could not fully count on us for radical social reform. The charge may be unfair, but the danger is real enough.
-Our hope in another life must not be allowed to seduce believers into neglecting our task in the present one.”
U.S. Bishops, Pastoral Letter on Marxist Communism (1980)

“When the Son of Man comes will he find faith on earth?” Will he find us living lives of faith working for social justice or merely observing religious customs? When the Son of Man comes will we be eager to say: Lord, when you glory appears, my joy will be full.”

Almighty Father,
strong is your justice and great is your mercy.
Protect us in the burdens and challenges of life.
Sheild our minds from the distortion of pride
and enfold our desire with the beauty of truth.
Help us to become more aware of your loving design
sothat we may more willingly give our lives in servide to all.
We ask this trhough Christ our Lord.
From Christian Prayer

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