As liturgical year draws closer to its end (Nov. 27th is the First Sunday of Advent), the Church leads us into God’s word about death, the inevitable end of our earthly existence, and eternity. The readings leading to the Gospel underline the importance of living by the three theological virtues:
FAITH AT ALL COST. The First Reading from the 2nd Book of Maccabees tells of seven courageous Jewish brothers who, with their mother, endure martyrdom rather than violate their consciences and their Jewish faith as regards the covenant regulations on forbidden food. They persevere in faith because (a) they believe that everything in life comes from God, and (b) they are confident that death is but a portal to the resurrection where God will reward the just and the faithful.
JOYFUL HOPE. We proclaim in our response to the Psalm: “Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.” Our earthly life leads not to loss and decay, but to the great hope of seeing God’s glory- the gift of beatific vision, to see God face-to face in the heavenly kingdom.
GODLY CHARITY. St. Paul in the previous Sundays in the Second Reading illustrates our life as a race that we must finish in view of God’s reward of a crown. Our Second Reading today, the Second Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, tells us that the challenge is about love in our hearts and in our works. Love for God necessarily overflows into a godly love for all.
In the Gospel, Jesus offers us a vision of eternity. He underlines several things:
- The afterlife is a life of “angels.” “Angelic” is icon of beauty and happiness. We shall no longer be bothered by the burdens of the body: hunger, thirst, illness, death.
- No more problematic marriages. Marriage is primarily needed on earth for the perpetuation of the human race that undergoes loss due to sickness and death. There is no more sickness and death in the next life- hence, no need of marriage.
- We are all “children of God.” No more divisions. We become one family with God as our Father.
We shall have the great reunion of our generation. In God, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are all alive.
For us who follow the victorious Jesus, death is a gateway to the full reality: the beatific vision- seeing God face-to-fade, the Lord who created us for all eternity.