32ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C
By: Rev. Fr. AMEH Sylvanus
Readings: 2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14; Psalm 17; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5; Luke 20:27-38
Theme: After death, then what?
There are basically two reasons why people ask questions. The first is for the purpose of learning something new to improve, and the second is to put someone on the spot and show his/her ignorance and/or foolishness. In the gospel reading of today’s Mass, the second reading was behind the question of the Sadducees to Jesus on marriage and the afterlife. Though they asked a question on the resurrection of the dead, the Bible says they do not believe in it.
To support their question, the Sadducees referred to the text of Deuteronomy 25:5-6: “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband’s brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. And it shall be that the firstborn son which she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.” Following the prescripts of this text, their question may sound logical. Their method calls us to caution as to the usage of scriptures, for very many people are using the Word of God as basis to support their evil doings. This was what the devil also did when he tempted Jesus. To answer their question however, Jesus, like he did in refuting the temptations of satan, referred also to scriptures and drew their attention to the text of Exodus 3:6: “And the Lord said, “I am the God of your father-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.” This should make us question ourselves regarding how much of scriptures we know.
The answer of Jesus leaves us with the lesson that many things, though necessary and good in themselves, are not the ultimate, and they are also fleeting. Jesus says in the afterlife, there is no need for marriage as there will be no need for procreation because there, people do not die. Eternal life, whether in heaven or in hell, is forever. In the gospel reading, seven brothers were mentioned to have died; in the first reading, seven brothers also died, though we read only the death of four and before their death, the second and fourth brothers talked about their hope for another life.
From these readings, it is clear that the basic thrust of the Word of God for today is to remind us that there is a life after this one. The end of this life is not really the end, but the beginning of another life. That is why Scripture says for the righteous, life is changed, not ended (Wis 3:1-4). It is important for us to keep in mind that how our eternal life will be depends on how we live this one. To live gloriously like angels in eternity, we must live presently like saints in this life. If we live a good life here, we shall live a happy life in eternity; conversely, if we live a bad life here on earth, we shall spend eternity in torment and pain and misery and sorrow.
We are therefore challenged today, to prepare ourselves well for that life which never ends. We must keep in mind that the glories of this world are only illusions that do not endure unto eternity. Many of the things people lose their souls for and go to hell are things that they met in this world and will leave behind in this world when death comes. The brothers in the first reading understood this very well, which was why they refused the offers of the king for which he wanted them to trade their souls. Here, the words of Jesus come to mind: “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” (Mk 8:36). Dear friends, let us then always keep in mind that this life shall come to an end one day, and after death, there will be judgment and reward (Heb 9:27). May God help us then, to live our lives well in such a manner that we are not distracted by the things of this world as to lose our souls in the process. Amen.