2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14; Ps. 171, 5-6, 8, 15; 2Thessalonians 2:16-3:5; Luke 20:27-38
“God is not God of the dead; but of the living, for all are alive to God.”
The Old Testament reading recounts the fate of seven brothers and their mother who were arrested, tortured and killed because they refused to compromise their religious beliefs. At the point of death, each brother voiced his faith in God and expressed hope in being raised again.
Their faithfulness in the face of death was made possible by their relationship with God, a relationship which helped them, as it has so many others, face persecution, and even martyrdom. At the point of death, the brothers controlled their destiny. They freely chose death rather than renounce their faith.
The days of martyrdom are not over. Statistics tell us that in 2015 more than 7,000 people were killed for faith- related reasons.
While we may not be called to die for our faith, we can suffer in other ways for living what we believe. Often we may face ridicule or worse when we speak or act according to gospel teaching.
Franciscan priest and author, Fr. Richard Rohr writes in one of his daily meditations, “Once the Gospel is preached, I doubt if the churches would be filled. Rather, we might be out on the streets living the message.” One can only wonder how the gospel message might transform our world if all of us lived it in a more conscious way.
The documentary, “Radical Grace” profiles three women religious who are living the gospel message ‘in the streets.' Faithful to their beliefs and supported by their relationship with God, they are working to bring about transformation by promoting Catholic social teaching of justice, equality and freedom from poverty and oppression in their lives and ministries in spite of any obstacles they may encounter.
In today’s gospel, Jesus engages in a discussion on resurrection with the Sadducees who did not believe in an afterlife. Using a “what if “scenario, they had tried to trap Him into saying that a woman might have seven husbands after death, something that was against Jewish law.
Jesus took this as an opportunity to teach them about the truth of the resurrection of the body and to stress that God continues to maintain a relationship with us after death. He wanted them to realize that rather than being an extension of earthly life, resurrected life is an entirely new way of existence. “Our God,” He told them, “is not of the dead, but of the living; for all are alive to God.”
Both the Old and the New Testament reveal that God enters into a personal relationship with us that not even death can destroy.
Bishop Gumbleton reinforced this in a recent homily. “Faith,” he said, "is something more than simply an assent to certain teachings. It's really about our relationship with God.” The family in the reading from Maccabees had a deep relationship with God. Jesus had that relationship. The sisters profiled in “Radical Grace” have that relationship. We are called to it as well.
How is your relationship with God? Is it deeper than just intellectual assent to the gospel message? Does it challenge you to live the gospel ‘in the streets,' speaking and acting on behalf of truth, regardless of the cost?
If it does not, what will you do to strengthen it?
Let us pray:
Loving God, grant me the grace to live my life in such a deep relationship with you that I may faithfully live the gospel regardless of the consequences.
Sister Michaela Connolly, O.P.