10 November 201932 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
32 Ordinary Time
2 Maccabees 7:1-2,9-14; Psalm 17:1,5-6,8,15; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5; St.
Luke 20:27-38

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Sadducees, holding no belief in the resurrection of the dead, wish to trap Christ.

"...there were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and died without children; and the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her a wife." (Lk 20:29-33)

Christ not only reaffirms his teaching on the resurrection of the dead, but he deepens our understanding of the marriage vocation as well. "...those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die any more." (Lk 20:35)

Marriage is an earthly vocation. In heaven where God will be "all in all", man and woman will find complete fulfillment in divine Love. There each will behold God face to face. The life-long covenant for mutual and sincere gift of self in marriage is for husband and wife a prelude to and help toward the eternal happiness of heaven.

In this world man and wife become one flesh in their life-long covenant, and may, if God so bless them, be fruitful in their openness to new life.

"Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter - appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values." (Familiaris consortio 13) (CCC 1643)

The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses' community of persons, which embraces their entire life: "so they are no longer two, but one flesh." (Mt 19:6; cf. Gen 2:24.) They "are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving." (Familiaris consortio 19.) This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sarament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together. (CCC 1644)

Marriage is a total gift, and so it is "until death". Man and wife make for each other of themselves a total and sincere gift of self. Christ demands this total fidelity of spouses when he proscribes divorce.

By its very nature conjugal love requires the inviolable fidelity of the spouses. This is the consequence of the gift of themselves which they make to each other. Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement "until further notice." The "intimate union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two persons , and the good of the children, demand total fidelity from the spouses and require and unbreakable union between them." (Gaudium et spes, 48, art. 1.) (CCC 1646)

Let's pray for each other until, again next week, we "meet Christ in the liturgy",
Father Cusick

(See also Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph numbers 1601 to 1666.) Publish with permission. http://www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
32 Ordinary Time
Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: Do Not Be Afraid!!

The first reading for this Sunday is intense. It describes the suffering of some of the martyrs at the time of the Maccabees. A little explanation is necessary. The story really begins with the conquests of Alexander the Great about 330 years before Christ. Not only did Alexander conquer the military of the nations of the world, he conquered the culture of the nations. Greek philosophy, Greek art, Greek religion, all things Greek became the new way of the world. Parts of the world adapted quickly to this. Parts of the world adapted gradually. Most of the known world was Hellenized, became Greek, though. That is with the exception of the Hebrews. The Jews held on to their faith and life.

Now when Alexander died, his empire was divided up among twelve counselor/generals. The Jews were in that part of the empire governed by the Seleucid dynasty. This became one of the largest of the Greek kingdoms. It extended all the way to India, Persia, Turkey, as well as Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. Perhaps, the empire was so large that the Jews were left alone, at least until about 165 BC. A new King, Antioches Epiphanes decided that everyone in his domains should worship the Greek gods and follow Greek practices. In Palestine many of the Jews were ecstatic. They were tired of being left out of what they called modern society. They wanted to be Greek, part of the mesh of the Hellenistic culture. They built gymnasiums where they would exercise in the rather immodest Greek style. This was very much against the Law of Moses. The men even covered over the distinct male marking of their faith. They rejected the Law of God. They were now modern men and women. They built Greek temples, worshiped Greek gods, dressed and acted like Greeks. Basically, they became Greeks in Jewish bodies. Antioches had a statue of the Greek god Zeus put right on the altar in the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. Right there, in the holiest part of the Temple where a chosen priest would only enter once a year, right there on the most sacred altar of Israel, Antioches put a statue of a pagan god.

But there were faithful Jews who were appalled. They would refer to the statue of Zeus as the abominable desecration. They refused to give in to the emperor's decrees. Antioches then issued a proclamation that anyone who kept the Jewish practices and did not worship the Greek gods would be tortured and put to death. In our first reading from the Second Book of Maccabees we hear about these sufferings. It is a grisly account. It is also accurate. Second Maccabees became one of the favorite books of the early Christians. They would choose Christ and his Kingdom rather than give in to the so-called modern yet pagan world of the Roman empire. Like the Jews in Maccabees they also would choose to suffer rather than reject Christianity. And they did suffer. No pain, no fear, not even death could dissuade Peter and Paul, and all the apostles, who were killed, some, like Bartholomew in horrible ways. From that old man, Ignatius of Antioch, to the 12 year old girl, Agnes, to those two new mothers, Perpetua and Felicity, and all the martyrs, from the earliest days of the Church to those dying now for the faith under the persecution of radical Islam and other agents of the devil, witnesses, martyrs, continue to choose Christ over death.

So what does this have to do with us? Unless the United States is conquered by a brutal people determined to persecute and kill all who do not renounce their faith, we are not going to be put in the position of the Hebrew and Christian martyrs. We will not have to make a choice between our faith or torture. But we will still be persecuted. We are persecuted now. People continue to belittle our faith and Christian lifestyle. People mock us for exalting in our Catholicism. They did this to Jesus, too. Look at the Gospel reading for today. Jesus was belittled for preaching that there is life after death. The Sadducees made fun of Jesus. "So, there is life after death, huh? Well, how could that be? What if a woman had seven husbands, and they all died before her. Whose wife would she be when she died? So there, we're a lot smarted than you Jesus. We've got you backed into a corner." Jesus very nicely responded, in our words, "You guys are clueless. You have no idea what the afterlife is like, the spiritual, heaven."

Perhaps the Sadducees' method of argument sound familiar. There are many who belittle people rather than consider if there is any truth to their beliefs. Most of us have experienced this when we profess our faith. Someone says to us "So, you believe in the Trinity, prove it. So you believe in the spiritual, prove it. Tear a body to pieces and see if you can find the soul. Your Catholicism, your Christianity, is just child's stories."

Jesus did not back down. He would also suffer being scorned by others for his faith. He would be crucified for his faith.

We cannot back down either. Because so many around us do not respect our faith, or respect us as Christians or as Catholics, we are often called to put up with their scorn for the sake of the faith.

So, you sit down at lunch with work companions or schoolmates, and someone says to you, "You don't really believe all the Catholic garbage do you? I mean, you can't really believe that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ?" Or maybe they come up with the anti-Catholic bigotry of the last century, "You Catholics worship Mary. You have statues in your churches. Aren't you are really a bunch of idolaters." Or maybe they lay into our morality, "You don't really believe that you have to put others before yourselves, do you? Get real, will you. That's not how the world works. You don't really believe that the physical expression of love belongs only in marriage, do you?" and so forth. It takes a lot of courage for us to say, "This is my faith. I am completely convinced. I don't ask you to believe my faith, just to respect me for having it."

That statement will most likely be followed by one of two things: silence or more scorn. And right here we have the great fear that confronts us. Our great fear is not torture or death. Our great fear is that we won't fit in, that people won't accept us, that people won't like us because of our faith. Look, we have been and will be belittled for our faith. We are being mocked right now for our faith. The mockery of the world fits the pattern of its immorality. The early Christians were told to be in the world but not of the word. That applies to us too. We are not of the world. We have chosen to be holy. Holiness means to be set aside, separate for God. We have chosen to be different from those elements of our society that exalt in what is basically a pagan lifestyle. These people can't stand our holiness. Evil will always attack good. In fact, when we are attacked for what we believe or how we live our Christianity, then we know that we are doing something very right, we are giving witness to the Kingdom. But we are afraid. We are afraid that we are not fitting in. We fear not being accepted even though we freely choose Christ.

St. Paul was aware of this. It is as though he speaks directly to each of us in today's second reading from the Second Letter to the Thessalonians. "Pray that you might be delivered from perverse and wicked people. For not all have faith. Be faithful to the Lord and the Lord will be faithful to you. He will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one." Paul's prayer, and our prayer is "May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and the endurance of Christ."

St. John Paul the Great told us from the very beginning of his papacy, "Do not be afraid." We cannot be afraid of what others are thinking about us. We cannot be afraid of what others might say about us. We cannot be afraid of what others might do to us. Our only fear should be the fear that we cave into the world, reject Christ, or in any way push Him aside.

With St. Paul, we pray, "May the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God the Father who loves us and gives us everlasting encouragement and hope, fortify our hearts and strengthen us."

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
32 Ordinary Time

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
32 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
32 Ordinary Time
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Sadducees could not have put a trickier question to Jesus than this one about the widow with seven husbands. While it is a hypothetical story it is also quite an outlandish one since after two or three of the brothers marrying this woman in order to 'raise up children for their brother' it must have dawned on them that she was actually barren and unable to have children.

Of course, this story they present to Jesus is ultimately a theoretical construct devised by the Sadducees to catch him out. We all know that their principal belief was a denial of the resurrection and so this story which purports to believe in the resurrection is unmasked fairly quickly as just another trick question.

It actually betrays the way the Sadducees think because as far as they were concerned there was no resurrection. According to them the only way a man could live after death was by handing his name on to the next generation. We might regard this handing on of one's name as a very poor substitute for the resurrection but since the Sadducees only accepted the first five books of the Bible they had not progressed in their religious understanding and their sect was effectively a religious relic from a previous age.

Jesus has no truck with these Sadducees and points out that when we get to heaven everything will be completely different to the things of this earth. He tells them that when we get to heaven we will be like the angels and have no need to marry. He goes on to point out that even Moses had a belief in the afterlife, something which completely undermines the whole basis of their religious understanding.

So this encounter with the Sadducees is revealed as another encounter between Jesus and those who oppose him. It is another little skirmish in their plan eventually to put him to death. Jesus swats them like a fly. Actually our text stops at verse 38 but verse 40 says, 'No one dared to ask him any more questions.' That brings the controversy to an end and Jesus is able to continue his ministry of teaching.

As a priest you get asked a lot of questions about what happens after death and what things will be like in heaven. They are not exactly like that tricky question asked by the Sadducees but people do want to know whether they will be reunited with their loved ones when they die.

Often when someone does die and we are celebrating the funeral we do place some stress on them being reunited with their husband or wife particularly if they have lived a long and happy married life together.

But one has to express sentiments such as these with a little care since we do not actually know what life will be like in heaven. All we do know is that it will be very different from the way things are here on earth. We will have moved to a completely different plane; we will be taken up into God and be living a life so full of love that it will be completely unrecognisable to us who have not yet reached that blessed state.

So when we say that a couple will be reunited after death while we are not telling any lies we are not telling the whole truth since we do not know precisely what will happen after death. Yes, couples will be reunited but both of them will be caught up in a love that we cannot even begin to comprehend from our present earth-bound perspective.

Jesus concludes his response to the Sadducees by saying that, 'he is God not of the dead but the living, for to him all men are in fact alive.'

By this Jesus means that all people whenever they were born and even if they have already passed away are still alive. This is a profound belief in the resurrection. This means that our real life is not here on this earth but is actually in heaven. It is in heaven that we will acquire our true and lasting status; it is in heaven that we will be resurrected and enabled to live in love with God forever.

It is impossible for us to know what things will be like on the other side of death. We are earth-bound creatures and can only comprehend things by what we see around us. But beyond death we move into a completely different dimension. We will be taken up into God and see things through his eyes. It is only then that we will actually begin to understand what everything is really like.

We are in the month of November and we are thinking very much about those who have died and in particular the members of our own families and anyone with whom we have a connection. We place the names of our loved ones before the altar and include them in our masses during this special month devoted to the Holy Souls.

It is a good thing during the month of November to add the prayer for the dead to our Grace after Meals. 'May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.'

We pray that the Holy Souls will receive a merciful judgement from God and be cleansed of their sins. We feel united with them because we know that while we can assist them with our prayers they too are able to assist us with their prayers.

We are both able to help each other. This recognises the great unity that exists between the Church on earth and the Church in heaven. It is one Church which is focussed on the worship of God gathered either around the altar of our Church or around the table of the heavenly banquet.

These two Churches, the Church Militant, that is the one here on earth, and the Church Triumphant, that is the one in heaven, are essentially one. We are united in our faith in and worship of God and only separated by the veil of death.

We are told that our true homeland is heaven. It is for heaven that we long, it is for heaven that we prepare ourselves, and it is to heaven that we look for the fulfilment of our final destiny.
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