Sunday of the 32nd Week of Ordinary Time
2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14; psalm17; 2 Thessalonnians 2:16-3:5; Luke 20:27-38
Jesus’ words in the gospel today are an example of a literary device – that is a dialogue within a broader dialogue. The words about seven husbands of a woman who never has a child address a situation that allows Jesus to teach about everlasting life. We note that this occurs as often happens because the Sadducees want to word wrestle with Jesus over doctrine and more so want to embarrass him and confuse those who may be drawn to follow him. This makes me remember that monastic life invites us to keep our focus on God and not get sidetracked into the difficulty faced by people of faith in every age, the unity of the family of God becoming divided into camps to argue with each other OR excessively giving of one’s time to distractions.
In group lectio yesterday afternoon as we read this gospel and each acknowledged the portion of the gospel to which God was drawing our attention and inviting us to pray, God’s desire that all may have life with him for all eternity came up more that once. The point was made that the conception of children is evidence of God bringing about a future. Jesus’ teaching is multi-layered and speaks to a number of areas we are facing today as well as the situation when he was speaking.
Pause with me to consider from the second reading: ‘he has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.’ The theme of encouragement is more than being nice to others. Encouragement moves many from getting stuck and bogged down in their struggle with believing or hesitance in responding to their call from God, their vocation, to really embrace living their faith and saying yes to God’s call. In our time lots of room is given to negative thinking and speaking. Speak the truth always in a loving manner. Find the way to help a person see what needs a change in thinking or behavior without clobbering the person. Where might there be a change we discover is embracing the newness into which God is inviting us? Jesus was masterful in helping people see the need to surrender and move on while always preserving the value he calls us to realize is at hand. He never clobbered people but invited them to the truth.
The first reading is not about stubborn idealists clinging to the past, it is about knowing who you are and knowing what compromises are not acceptable because they mean a loss of the essential. Decisions need to be made prayerfully, asking God to guide us, or we run the risk of heading down a path filled with regret. The first reading becomes a teaching on having confidence in the everlasting life God wishes to share with us so that the seven brothers/sons in the first reading and the seven husbands in the gospel are an encouragement for us not to lose sight of all that God is offering us in sharing with us the fullness of his life, now and forever.
That this life will entail struggles, challenges, disappointments and confusion is more than obvious for all of us. That this life holds promise, possibility, opportunity and grace is, hopefully, equally if not more obvious because the promise, possibility, opportunity and grace are from God.
Being confident of the love God is offering us now and will offer us through all eternity may we remember to encourage one another to live in faith, saying yes to what God is asking of us and becoming whom God is inviting us to be.