23 Nov 2019; Death and After-life

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Saturday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Readings; 1Mc 6:1-13, Luke 20: 27-38

The Gospel passage today is about death and after-life set in the context of an argument between Jesus and Sadducees. The context is the custom of Levirate marriage of Israel. If a married brother dies without a child, the younger brother is to marry the widow and have children and the child would ‘belong’ to the elder brother who is dead. The reason behind this custom was the thinking that procreation is the aim of marriage. But in today’s Gospel Jesus debunks this thought and says that physical intimacy is not the criterion to measure the depth of relationships. Relationships go beyond physical expressions. Jesus says clearly that at resurrection our love is perfected that relationships take on a divine meaning. This is perfect relationship to which we are invited today.

In the Gospel passage Jesus gives a lot of promises: you would be children of God, children of the resurrection and be like angels. But for all these there is a criterion: we have to be counted worthy of it. The entry to eternal life is not a free gift. Jesus has merited us eternal life but do we make ourselves worthy of it? It is interesting to see that the Bible does not say, those who are worthy, rather it says, those who are counted/considered worthy. We sinful human beings can be called angels, children of God not due to our merit but out of the mercy of God. That’s why the Psalmist would say, ‘Lord, if you would remember our sins who would be saved. (Psalm 130: 3)’ But that does not mean that we do not have any responsibility and leave everything to the mercy of God. We are to live lives worthy of eternal life.

Jesus says that God is a living God who acts right now in my concrete life situations. So, the present life becomes a foretaste of the life yet to come. Our blessedness begins now. Earlier we had the concept of fuga mundi or running away from the world; but today, the attitude of the Church is to transform the world by being in the world because God is actively present in the history and circumstances of individual lives. God is God of the living would also mean that the dead too would live in God. The Scripture says that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and not God was the God of Abraham. When God told this to Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were dead and gone before centuries. But God says God is the God of the forefathers. Hence, death is not the dead end. It is a passage: from physical form of existence to an immortal existence. St. Paul says of this other world as a place which no eye has seen and no ear has heard.

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