Every brother’s hope: Jesus resurrection

| Father Michael Daly | November 7, 2019 | 0 Comments

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The first reading’s narrative from the book of Maccabees this weekend of the martyrdom of seven brothers also contains sure testimony to belief in the resurrection.

The brothers are tortured cruelly: flogged to death, robbed of their hacked-off limbs. Yet to the astonishment of their torturers, they endure all of this by referring to the resurrection that will render their bodies whole again.

God has given them hope, which no one can take away from them, and the limbs loaned to them from on high can eventually be restored. A heroic ideal is being sketched out before our eyes, a picture that is intended to present clearly to us what Paul meant with the words: “For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor 4:17). This certainly applies not solely to bloody martyrdom but to every sort of burdensome earthly trial, which, despite its load, remains as light as a feather in comparison with what has been promised: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.” (Jn 11:25).

In the second reading, we are promised eternal trust and sure hope — just like the martyred brothers. More than that, we are also promised an understanding of spiritual fruitfulness derived from Christ’s resurrection, which was unknown in the Old Covenant. Paul daringly embodied this belief in the Resurrection, saying, “My eager expectation and hope is that I shall not be put to shame in any way, but that with all boldness, now as always, Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain” (Phil 1:20-21). Moreover, when Paul preached to the Romans, he considered “that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us” (Rom 8:18). Then he could sing with King David, “Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full” (Ps 17).

God is not the God of the dead, which is why, in the Gospel, Jesus simply brushes aside the foolish casuistry of the Sadducees regarding the woman married seven times. Of course the resurrection of the dead will be a corporeal resurrection, but since those privileged to experience it will never die again, marriage and the generation of children will have no more meaning (which, however, does not mean that all distinctions between man and woman will disappear). Those who are transfigured in God will have a completely different kind of fruitfulness, because fruitfulness is part of the image of God in men, yet it no longer has anything in common with mortality. It has to do with the vitality that comes from participating in the living fruitfulness of God: where the love we practiced on earth will be caught up into a higher love. If God is introduced as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that is, of the living, then these who are alive in God are also fruitful together with God: On earth they are fruitful in their earthly progeny and in heaven they are fruitful together with God in a manner known only to God and his angels.

And until we reach the place of eternal life, “May our Lord Jesus Christ encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ” (2 Thes 3:5). Jesus’ resurrection heals our hearts so we can, with Paul, “boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom 5:3-5). “And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor 3:17).

Father Daly is parochial vicar of St. Odilia in Shoreview. He can be reached at frmichael@stodilia.org.


Sunday, November 10
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Category: Sunday Scriptures