Sunday, November 6, 2016

Nov. 6, 2016: 32nd Sunday Ordinary C

Nov. 6, 2016: 32nd Sunday Ordinary C
Click to hear Audio Homily

When was the last time you gave some thought about death? If you visited a grave of a loved one on All Saints and All Souls Day, thoughts about your own mortality must have passed through your mind. Even children ask questions about what happens after death. A boy asked his mom about his recently deceased grandfather, "Mom, when will Grandpa come back? Will he be here for my birthday?" Mom explained, "He won’t be here for your birthday, but we’ll remember the times he was here.” The boy then asked, “Can we drive to heaven to visit Grandpa?”

Questions about what happens after death were also on the minds of scholars of religion and ordinary folks in the time of Jesus. The Pharisees and many Jews believed in the doctrine of the resurrection after death but the Sadducees denied resurrection. The Sadducees came to Jesus with what they thought was a case that would make the doctrine of the resurrection look ridiculous. Jesus challenged their beliefs. He said we shall all rise to a new and eternal life, in a form and an existence very different from that of our present life. Thus, the question of ownership of wives or property will not, and cannot arise in our new life.

In the brief answer to the Sadducees, Jesus gave us the essential facts concerning our future status. He affirms that all those who have proved themselves worthy while in this life will rise to an eternal life. To be worthy before Christ in this life is to trust him, trying daily to be holy, and committing ourselves to being instruments of compassion. Undoubtedly we will fail or get lost due to our weakness and sinfulness. Our Lord keeps seeking out His people, right until they draw their very last breath. We can never be sure if a soul was truly lost, even if he never showed any outward sign of repentance and faith at all. The Lord searches him out in the depths of his heart in ways we cannot see. His one last chance is at the moment of death. What we can do is pray for him and entrust him to God's mercy and know that God will do everything He can for the soul.

We get a foretaste of our own resurrection through Reconciliation and the Eucharist. Recently Fr. Joe and I heard confessions for 3rd graders. Even at that young age, we could see the joy of the little ones when they said out loud and received forgiveness for their sins against their parents and friends. How much more so it is for us adults to experience that joy in freedom from our guilt and sins. Cleansing of our sins is a joyful experience of a new beginning and a taste of heaven.

And what about the intimate union with Jesus in the Eucharist? For most of us, we have been waiting the past 6 days to receive Jesus so close to our hearts. Our faith is renewed each time we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, and we are filled with new light, new strength, and new hope knowing that heaven is right here in our hearts. For the past 2 weeks, there have been much hype and anticipation for the LSU-Alabama game. Many fans have been on the LSU campus since 6am this morning. Do we have that same hopeful anticipation in receiving Jesus into our hearts? Like the child who is confident that his mom can drive him to Heaven to see Grandpa, let us also be filled with confidence that the resurrection and heaven that Jesus promises us is not far away in a distant future, but it’s here and now when we open our hearts with our trust.