Thirty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 156 (NAB Translation)
This week’s first reading is from the book of 2 Maccabees. This book covers the period of time between the 180 -161 BC, which was during the “intertestamental” period, and provides a link between the Old and New Testaments. The passage given here tells the story of the martyrdom of seven brothers who are being tortured by the Seleucids (Syrian Greeks who had conquered Israel). The brothers are being persecuted for resisting the Greeks who were trying to force them to eat pork in violation of Jewish law. The story is important because it confirms belief in the bodily resurrection of the righteous and the redemptive value of suffering, setting the stage for Jesus’ coming and his eventual Passion which leads to our salvation. In today’s Gospel passage Jesus essentially ratifies belief in the resurrection of the righteous when he is challenged by the Sadducees (the Jewish sect that denied the resurrection).
The response for this Psalm is from our Gospel: “Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.”
In this week’s second reading (from his second letter to the Thessalonians) Saint Paul, invokes a blessing on his listeners that they be “comforted now” in Jesus Christ and in God the Father. He was concerned because the Thessalonians were preoccupied with the thought that Jesus’ second coming was about to happen soon and he wanted to calm their anxieties. Then St. Paul asks the church to pray also for him and his evangelical mission– recognizing both the power of intercessory prayer as well as the fact that he cannot do it on his own, but only by the power of God. Paul knows that he has enemies who will attempt to stop his message, but he also trusts in God to provide the strength needed if we ask Him. This is a fitting reminder for us today to pray for each other and to especially pray for the Pope and others who are seeking to share the Gospel in a hostile world.
In this week’s Gospel from St. Luke, we see Jesus responding to a challenge made by the Sadducees. The Sadducees were a party of the Jews who held a significant amount of power because they were the wealthy and elite descendants of the high priestly families. Unlike the Pharisees, the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection because they only accepted the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), which did not speak explicitly of the resurrection. In this particular encounter the Sadducees are trying to test Jesus by presenting what they feel is an unsolvable riddle regarding the afterlife: Whose wife would a woman be in heaven if she had been married multiple times in life on earth? Catholic scripture scholar John Bergsma explains Jesus’ amazing response: “it is unthinkable that God would identify Himself by his relationship to three men who were dead and gone! How could the Eternal “I AM”, the Ever-Living, Ever-Existent One, be associated with three dead dudes? After all, each of the three of the patriarchs had died without witnessing the fulfillment of God’s promises to them, which included the possession of the land of Canaan by their descendants. So if there is no eternal life and no resurrection, the LORD is a God who does not keep his promises, whose friends are long forgotten and extinguished. Not even the Sadducees would go so far as to affirm such pathetic views of Israel’s God. Therefore, one must concede that hope in the resurrection is affirmed, at least implicitly, even by the Torah of Moses.”
Reflection question from Bishop Vásquez
During these last Sundays of the liturgical year, our attention turns to the end times when all things will, once again, be properly ordered in Christ. They remind us that our actions should always be done out of love for God. The resurrection gives us confident hope and reveals that love overcomes evil. Are my actions motivated by the opinion of others or Gospel values revealed by Jesus and the Holy Spirit through the living tradition of the Church? Do I choose to do what is right and just, merciful and loving?