The Sadducees Strikeout With Jesus

Homily, Oct 09-10, 2013: Cycle C, 32nd Sun of Ordinary Time (Seven Bros Marry Same Woman)

I guess it is a normal human tendency to live our daily lives without giving much thought to Heaven. We all want to go, but we don’t want to die to get there.

It’s almost like we want to hold out for a personal Assumption like the Virgin Mary, but I have two words for you on that – “Fat Chance”

We probably think more about Heaven when we are at a funeral than any other time, as we consider where our loved one or our friend will be.

While Scripture does not give us a definitive picture, it does have a number of wonderful promises!

One of my favorites is the verse describing Heaven as: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

As beautiful as that verse is, still, we do not know exactly what Heaven will be like, because it is beyond our ability to comprehend. 

No one has died, gone to Heaven, returned and written a best seller about it.

So, we are left with scriptural hints.

For instance, this litany: we can be sure that it will fulfill our greatest longings,

…it will dazzle us with its beauty,

…it will obliterate our greatest problems,

…it will be greater than anything we can imagine,

…it will be a place where love and joy will reign.

All the wrongs of the world will be made right. This is a big one because if there is one thing that universally aggravates our souls, it is “wrong” prospering or “wrong” called right.

…it will be a place where everything good is present; everything sad will be gone, and only joy will exist.

…everything exciting will appear; everything hopeful will come forth.

…everything violent and hateful will be gone, and everything born of love will prevail. This is another big one since most wars turn out to be little more than ego battles between leaders at the expense of their people.

The classic from Revelations: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Heaven will be the residence of God. The greatest reward of Heaven will be God Himself. Nothing we see or experience will be greater than the fact that we are with God and see Him face to face. (Beatific Vision)

And, the best news of all?  God is busy preparing all of that for us, right now, and preparing us for all of that. 

As we approach the end of Ordinary Time in the Liturgical season, Holy Mother Church wants us to think about Heaven…

Oddly enough, our readings today use a grisly story & an obtuse story to lead us into considering what Heaven might be like.

In our First Reading from Second Maccabees, we hear about seven brothers & their mother who were tortured to death in an attempt to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s Law. 

It’s a gruesome story and they saw it as a huge issue, certainly more than us deciding to go to Southern Soul for a BBQ sandwich.  They saw it as a sacred issue worth dying for.  To them, it was about rejecting the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Each in turn refused to obey and cried out for the “life to come”, i.e. Heaven, with their dying breath.  So great was their belief in their God & the afterlife with Him, that they proclaimed that, they trusted Him to raise them up to Heaven. 

Heaven is a reality that Jesus also speaks about in today’s Gospel of Luke.  He is confronted by the Sadducees who posed a convoluted story to Him about seven brothers all marrying the same woman in turn & dying.  “Whose wife would she be in the afterlife?”

Obviously a trick question because the Sadducees did not believe in life after death.  That is why they are so Sad You See.

Jesus said that the reality of life after death is beyond human comprehension.  “They are like Angels and are Children of God,” He said.

Sometimes we view Heaven as though it were earth done right, done perfectly.  We have streets here so in Heaven they are streets of gold.  We extrapolate things here to Heaven – because we don’t really have a clue.

We don’t know what it is like to be “like the angels,” because we cannot comprehend angelic life. We just know that it will be better than our fondest imagination.

We do know that we were created to know, love and serve God in this life and to be happy with Him forever in the next.  Does that sound familiar?  It should…

That’s from the old Baltimore catechism that old fogies like me memorized when we were seven or eight years old. Going to a parochial high school gave me a total of 10 years to recite those truths.

Terminology may change through the years, but the basic truths remain the same.  Heaven is that place, that state of being, where we are happily united with God forever. 

Even The Catechism of the Catholic Church, released in 1992, says that Heaven, the Father’s house, is the true homeland toward which we are heading and to which, already, we belong.” (CCC 2802). Same truth – different words.

The Almighty Creator of the universe loved us so much that He sent His son to become one of us, to live like us, to die like us, and to die for us.  When we love someone, we want to give him or her everything we can, the very best we have to express that love. 

Well, God gave us His best, His Son, in this life.  What must He have in store for us in the next life? 

We are only in this world for a brief time. We have to make the most of it.  

That is why we are called to nurture the Presence of Christ within ourselves. That is why we are called to make Christ present to others by our actions.

We only have one life.  We pray today for the courage to allow God to perfect us in this life, in the here and now, so that we will be better prepared for the life to come.

May we always be united to Him, here and hereafter.

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