Thursday, November 7, 2013

"They can no longer die, for they are like angels"

In our Sunday Gospel Reading (32C) for Nov. 10, 2013 we are presented with the tricky question that the Sadducees posed Jesus to catch him out and to demonstrate the logic of their opinion that there is no resurrection of the body. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Online Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

Christian faith in the resurrection has been met with incomprehension and opposition from the very beginning. On no point does the Christian faith encounter more opposition than on the resurrection of the body. The question of the resurrection is vital not only to the Christian faith but to all people who reflect on life and death.

Resurrection of the Body

Belief in the resurrection is the most fundamental of all Christian beliefs. In fact without it Christianity makes no sort of sense at all. Jesus died on the Cross and rose from the dead to save us from our sins and to open for us the way to eternal life. He died that we might live. Christ can speak about the resurrection because it is precisely through his resurrection that our salvation has been won. Fr. Alex McAllister says our Lord's resurrection demonstrates definitively that he is indeed the Son of God and that everything he has taught us is true—it has the authority of God himself.

Death is hard to talk about. But life after death is even harder. Some people even say reflecting on life after death can be defeatist. That instead of trying to make things better here on earth we will spend all our time thinking about heaven. Ironically, Fr. Phil Bloom points out, those who think about heaven are often the ones who do the greatest good for their fellow human beings here on earth. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. tells us that we do not encounter God in the feelings of past moments that we try to hang on to, or in the feelings of future moments that we try to imagine. Now, explains Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S., is the only time for the decision of faith and for the works of love. Eternal life breaks through and changes life here and now.

Ultimately, Fr. Ron Rolheiser adds, resurrection is about the transcendent power of God breaking into nature and into our lives and doing for us what we can’t do simply through will-power and positive thinking. If we can recognize these breakthroughs, we can welcome the new thing God is doing.

A God of the Living

The Sadducees try to discredit Jesus by ridiculing the belief in the afterlife. Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB tells us that Jesus is very clear in the Gospel: God is a God of the living and not of the dead. All who believe are alive in Him. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB points out how in the second part of his answer, Jesus draws on the Sadducees' own Bible, the book of Moses (vv. 37-40). Jesus answers them with Exodus 3:6: God is a God of the living and not of the dead. It follows then, says Jesus, that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are living, not dead.

Love is a force much deeper than life. Fr. John Foley, S. J. explains that when life ceases, love stays. It becomes the home, the embracing arms that enfold us. Love is the substance, life is the outgrowth. So the “place” dead persons go, leaving their bodies behind, is into the heart of love, into the arms of God who is love. Thus, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino tells us, you and I are called to be holy. You and I are made for worship. And we cannot allow anything the world throws at us to keep us from Jesus Christ.

Thoughts on Marriage

Jesus defends the doctrine of life after death. But what he says about marriage is troubling to those who are rather fond of their spouses and can’t imagine a happy eternity without them. Quite simply, there are things about this life, and about marriage, that will last forever. And things that will pass away.

Father Cusick explains further. Marriage is an earthly vocation. In heaven where God will be "all in all", man and woman will find complete fulfillment in divine Love. There each will behold God face to face. The life-long covenant for mutual and sincere gift of self in marriage is for husband and wife a prelude to and help toward the eternal happiness of heaven. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D. compliments this thought. He says our resurrection will be not just more of the same, but a transformation of life, a launching into a new realm of life, a life of eternal love of God and one another that will be more exciting than we can possibly imagine.

So is it possible to achieve perfect marriages in this life? Lenora Grimaud says yes. But only if we remember always that in this Sacrament, "The Two Become One Body." When you run into rough waters in your marriage, Fr. James Gilhooley invites you to always remember that Marriage still remains the only game in the world where two can play and both can win. And the chances of success are more likely when couples remember that within a happy marriage, the positive comments should always outnumber the negative about 5 to 1. Fr. Michael Ryan offers this and more hints for a happy marriage in this wonderful article we share with you this week.

Sanctity, Holiness & Saints

Pat Gohn talks about something she says she learned a little too late in life: Faithful priests come from, well, the faithful. So let us consider just how deeply we live out our own intimacy with Christ. We never know – we may be influencing a future priest in our midst!

Plus we bring you some more reflections teh feasts feast we celebrated last week: All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Fr. James Martin, S.J. talks about the lives of the saints. They were not always holy. In fact, many of them lived lives which seemed confusing, bizarre and misguided. But when you know the whole story -- their lives are really tales of love. And they can offer some important lessons for all of us. If we just let them. And Msgr. Charles Pope reflects on Purgatory. Many people think of purgatory primarily in terms of punishment, but it is also important to think of it in terms of promise, purity and perfection.

The Emerging Pro-Life Generation

It seems Pro-life is becoming mainstream. Are we finally at a tipping point? America’s pro-life future is looking brighter thanks to Generation Y, the Millennials, those 60 million people born between the late ’70s and the late ’90s. Opinion polls show a shift in the views of this generation from earlier generations, as well as that our country has become more pro-life than “pro-choice.” And that is indeed good news.

Here's another Life issue where we feel our Catholics can use more illuminating guidance: Catholics and "Do-Not-Resuscitate" Orders. Is a "do-not-resuscitate" order ever ethical? Shouldn't a patient in an emergency situation always be resuscitated, so that the family can evaluate with some time and care what are the limits of ordinary and extraordinary care (and is that distinction used anymore)? We offer you the Catholic perspective here.

Grace At A Bus Stop

Tired of announcements during Mass? Matthew Warner offers some ideas on what to do. Now he's not saying making a few announcements to the community during Mass is a bad thing. But he does think holding them hostage at Mass and forcing them to listen does have negatives that go with them. First, it can take away from the liturgy. Second, it’s kind of rude sometimes. He offers a few suggestions that can possibly result in better communication. Please have an open mind and hear him out.

Finally, we bring you an unlikely tale of bus stop fellowship and the instant community. A Canossian sister shares how a chance encounter with one woman introduced a moment of grace to a city bus on a normal daily run. God truly works in mysterious ways.

Another eventful world in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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FEATURED BLOG: Generation Y is the Pro-Life Generation
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