32nd Sunday in Ordinary time, 6 Nov 2016

From the Dean’s Desk

Life after death has been an aspect of human thought for quite some time. It has been the basis of novels and the film industry, where we have stories of people ‘living’ after death. This basic tenet is proclaimed during our Creed on two accounts. Firstly, that Jesus on the third day (he) ‘rose again in fulfilment of the Scriptures’. Secondly we proclaim that ‘we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.’ In today’s Gospel [Luke 20:27.34-38] Jesus reminds us of this life after death, and that this life consists of a resurrected life that will transform our whole existence. It comes as a result of a question put to Jesus by the Sadducees, a Jewish philosophical school that did not believe in the existence of either angels or in the resurrection of the dead. Jesus’ response to the ‘problem’ voiced by the Sadducees reminds us of the words we pray in the first Preface for Christian Death: “Lord for your people, life is changed not ended…’

Belief in life after death affects the way we live here and now. This point is driven home in this rather savage story from the Second Book of Maccabees, today’s first reading [7:1-2.9-14]. In this story seven brothers are put to death in front of their mother rather than partake of pagan rituals and forsake their religious traditions. Their faith in life after death is entrenched in the statement of one of the brothers: ‘we are prepared to die rather than break the laws of our ancestors…you may discharge us from this life, but the King of the world will raise us up, since it is for his laws that we die!

All those who are baptised have a share in the very life of God, a life that does not end. When we choose to live by that grace, we choose to live and love as Jesus did. Jesus is the model for all graced individuals, because of his being both God and human.

That is the gift we now share. Jesus shows us how to live our new life in a way that gives witness to our dignity – a dignity that has been given to us by the merciful love and grace of God. In our second reading today [2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5] Paul summarises for us what a believer’s life should be like. It is a life of hope given to us through God’s mercy and love. This then becomes the source of strength for us that all that we do and say may be for the good of God and his kingdom. Our lives need to be lived in constant prayer that we may be preserved from evil. This life to which we are called is based on the relationship between Jesus and his Father. Jesus was well aware of the love that his Father had for him, and because of this love he was able to carry out the Father’s will.

We are urged to live in this manner as well – trusting in God’s love for us and making every effort to come to terms with the Father’s will for us today and then to have the courage to be able to put that will into practice to the best of our ability. Living each day this way with the strength of God’s grace is how we can respond to the gift of God’s life within us. It also prepares us for the fullness of the eternal life promised to us when we die. May this be a guiding thought for us as we have embarked on our month of prayer for our deceased relatives and friends.

Fr Robert Bossini
Dean and Parish Priest