Shared Homily Starter
2 Maccabees 7.1-2, 7, 9-14
2 Thessalonians 2.16 – 3.5
The Second Book of Maccabees describes the struggle of the Jews for religious, cultural, and political independence from the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Antiochus kingdom included present day Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon and more. He was a Greek, who by violence and persecution, sought to suppress the Jewish religion in his kingdom. But the point of this book is to convey religious ideas or principles rather than historical facts. Today’s reading shows that the some Jews believed in the idea of resurrection. In the New Testament, we learn that the Pharisees did but the Sadducees did not. More importantly, the message of today’s reading is that one should remain faithful to God even in the face of torture and death.
These Jewish brothers didn’t give up their lives only because of hope in a hereafter but also because their brothers and sisters were suffering under an unjust regime. Their love of God compelled them to love and suffer for their neighbours. Oscar Romero and Chelsea Manning prove such love is still present in our world.
In today’s passage from Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians, Paul encourages the church in Thessalonica not to give up hope but to continue to live by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul’s statement, “But the Lord is faithful...” is a reassurance to hope for all Christians.
The Trinity, God as Creator, Jesus as Saviour, and the Holy Spirit as Sanctifier, have invested their entire loving selves in the created universe. Our Triune God is all about saving, treasuring and loving the entire creation. “Divine Love and Wisdom are sufficiently large and grand to include universal salvation. No one need be lost or left out. None need be excluded. Our hope must be this large, too! We must embrace God’s victory in spite of small, hateful and fearful minds and hearts. God hates no one. How could God hate if “God is love”?
There are some we hear about in the news that claim to be Christian. They preach hatred and fear and divine wrath. They have twisted and misused the Gospel for their own purposes out of their own tragic fears. They seem to have missed the very point that because the word salvation comes from the Latin word salus, which means health. So to be saved is to be restored to health, to be made whole. God is love!!! Love and hate cannot coexist simultaneously in the same location. God is loving!” God is love!!!
In today’s gospel the Sadducees, who don’t believe in the resurrection try to trip Jesus up by asking him, which of the seven brothers will be the woman’s husband? Jesus tells them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage” and that they are “are children of God, being children of the resurrection.” I have always found this Gospel passage difficult to understand until recently.
For example Ilia Delio writes, “Creation flows out of the dynamic, self-communicative love of God and, like God, goes forth in dynamic relationships toward greater unity in love.” We are created from God’s love, and resurrection summarizes “the whole evolutionary emergent creations as a forward movement to become something new, a new reign of God, a new heaven on earth. What took place in Jesus Christ is intended for the whole cosmos, union, transformation in the divine embrace of love.”
If salvation is being made whole, then Jesus is the whole-maker. One who lives in Christ, embraces death as sister as part of the family of life. The seven brothers in today first reading knew that death is the transcendence of limits towards the fullness of life. As for today’s gospel, and the dilemma posed by the Sadducee’s question, in the new reign of God, “the next act always anticipates something more creative, something new emerging out of the chaos of the old.”
I don’t know what that “something new” may be. Just imagine. Could it mean that “children of the resurrection”, we will be so infused with God’s love that we fully realize our relationality? Could it mean that our love “made whole” will transcend the limits of our present human relationships?
Please share your thoughts.