Father Valan Arockiaswamy

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HOMILIES

Close Dear Audience,
For better understanding of the spiritual message behind this homily I kindly remind you to first read and contemplate the biblical texts before reading or listening to my preaching - a human reflection on the Word of God!

Thirty Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year C)

Nov 6, 2022 Views 70 Listen 1 Downloads 0
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First Reading

A reading from the Book of Maccabees (7:1-2, 9-14)

It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested and tortured with whips and scourges by the king, to force them to eat pork in violation of God's law.

One of the brothers, speaking for the others, said: "What do you expect to achieve by questioning us? We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors."

At the point of death the second brother said: "You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever. It is for his laws that we are dying."

After him the third brother suffered their cruel sport. He put out his tongue at once when told to do so, and bravely held out his hands, as he spoke these noble words: "It was from Heaven and that I received these; for the sake of his laws I disdain them; from him I hope to receive them again." Even the king and his attendants marveled at the young man's courage, because he regarded his suffering as nothing.

After he had died, they tortured and maltreated the fourth brother in the same way. When he was near death, he said, "It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up by him; but for you, there will be no resurrection to life."

(P) The word of the Lord.
(R) Thanks be to God.

Responsorial Psalm

Psalms of David (17:1, 5-6, 8, 15)


(R) Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Hear, O Lord, a just cause; attend to my outcry; listen to my prayer from lips without deceit. (R)

My steps had been steadfast in your paths, my feet have not faltered. I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my word. (R)

Keep me as the pupil of your eye, hide me in the shadow of your wings. But I in justice shall behold your face; on waking I shall be content in your presence. (R)

Second Reading

A reading from the second Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians (2:16-3:5)

Brothers and sisters: May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who 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.

Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us, so that the word of the Lord may spread quickly and be glorified, as it did among you, and that we may be delivered from perverse and wicked people, for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strength you and guard you from the evil one. We are confident of you in the Lord that what we instruct you, you are doing and will continue to do. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ.

(P) The word of the Lord.
(R) Thanks be to God.

Gospel

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (20:27-38)

Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this questions to Jesus, saying, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us, "If someone's brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother." Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.

Jesus said to them, "The children of this age take wives and husbands; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called the 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."

(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
(R) Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Homily

For the past few months we have been going through the Gospel of Luke. So far, we have read miracle stories and parables which convey moral or spiritual lessons. Today's text is about the most essential Christian belief - the resurrection of the body.

The Sadducees were one of the prominent Jewish political religious sects at the time of Jesus Christ. They were aristocrats, priests and members of the supreme religious council called the Sanhedrin. They were liberal in political views but conservative in religious matters. They accepted only the first five Books of the Bible - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Unlike the Pharisees and other Jews who believed in the resurrection, life after death and rewards for the righteous and punishment for the wicked, the Sadducees did not believe in any of them, nor the existence of angels or spirits, let alone the reality of resurrection since it is not explicitly mentioned in the five books. And they knew Jesus had been teaching about resurrection.

One day they approached Jesus and wanted to know about the life after death. As an example they cited a fictitious story of a woman who married a man who later died. In accordance with the Law of Moses her husband's brother took her as his wife in order to produce a child and continue his dead brother's lineage, Deuteronomy (25:5-10). But he too died shortly afterwards. This happened with all seven brothers. The Sadducees' question therefore was, at the resurrection whose wife would she be since all of them were married to her?

Jesus corrected the Sadducees on two fronts. First, the Sadducees had a far too simplistic view of resurrection. They thought that life after death would be an extension of earthy life. That's to say that the resurrected people will continue to enjoy all the pleasures, such as marital relationships, they had on earth. But Jesus reminded them that resurrection is a gift from God, awarded to those "who are deemed worthy". Those deemed worthy are no longer subject to death, because they are like angels, and they are the children of God. Hence, at the resurrection, there will not be any physical relationship with one another let alone marriage in heaven.

Second, to the Sadducees, the resurrection appeared ridiculous because they believed that with death, man's exsistence came to an end. But Jesus explained the belief in resurrection by quoting their scriptures, Exodus (3:6). He reminded them when God had manifested Himself to Moses in the burning bush, He identified Himself, "I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." It means that Moses' ancestors who had died hundreds of years ago were still alive in God. That's to say, the relationship that God had established with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob while they were on earth continued even after death. They are alive in God.

What is the message for us?

The fact that the Sadducees denied there is resurrection of the Body was nothing new. Long before Jesus' time a man named Job asked the big question, "Can a dead come back to life?", Job (14:14). This same question remains to this day - Is this life all that there is? Or is there life beyond the grave? What would life be like if truly there was life after death?

We cannot bring ourselves to believe in a life beyond death because it is very difficult for us, with our limited human intelligence, to understand it. I don't think any of us can fully grasp or explain it to others. We can only imagine what it will be like. Some people imagine it as a beautiful place with endless good times. Others imagine it as a place where there will be no sickness, suffering or pain but only peace and joy. But, the ultimate proof that there is resurrection comes from the Lord Jesus Himself from His own victory over death when he rose from the tomb. After being put to death, Jesus literally, physically rose again from the dead, appeared to his disciples, talked to them, dined with them and performed miracles before He finally ascended to heaven.

The apostle Paul declares in his first letter to the Corinthians (15:13-18), "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ cannot have been raised either, and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without substance, and so... is your faith pointless and you have not, after all, been released from your sins. In addition, those who have fallen asleep in Christ are utterly lost." Yes. As the apostle Paul tells us, without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is no such thing as the Christian faith. It is so important that the Church has included it in the Profession of Faith. We confess every week that we believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he exclaimed: I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this, John (11:25)? Today Jesus asks us the same question. "Do you believe in the resurrection?"

Jesus' reply to the Sadducees in today's text is an invitation for us, Christians, to approach the resurrection of the body with a genuine faith. We must believe in it even though we do not understand how it takes place. Jesus affirms that there is a resurrection after which, our life will be much different from what we think it will be. He says that we'll be transfigured. That everything - our life and our relationships will be changed. We will just be the children of God. We will be angels. We will no longer die. We will never be separated from God again after death.

Like Jesus, we too will have a resurrected body. We will be alive in God. Let us all, therefore, live a life that God deems us worthy of the resurrection and of His kingdom.

(P) Amen.

God Bless You!

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