Welcome back to our weekly reflection!
After a time away, it is my honor to resume this weekly reflection with a very challenging theme: life after death. It is always very difficult to think about the mystery of death. I call it mystery because it goes beyond our grasp and understanding. Sometimes we take it for a fate, and we get anxious and nervous whenever we happen to hear or talk about it.
Today’s readings come however to give us assurance and comfort. They remind us that life is a journey. As the Church teaches us Life is a pilgrimage we engage in that reaches its fulfillment when we return to our true City for which we all long.
If this is so, we understand the reaction of the seven brothers who bravely approach their martyrdom with the assurance that the Lord in Whom they remain faithful will never forsake them. Their embrace of martyrdom becomes an expression of their faith in the resurrection; that life that seems to end here on earth gives them the opportunity to no longer die, because they have the assurance of sharing the glory with their Lord and Master.
The contrast between these brothers and the Sadducees is worth noting. While the brothers have of life after death a very high idea, the Sadducees find it laughable because they think everything ends here on earth. Like them, many of us have nurtured the idea of simply continuing what we have been living and doing here on earth when we are called. While the idea of meeting again and enjoying friendship with our loved ones is awesome, in his response to the Sadducees, Jesus invites us to look up to the things that are on High, life in heaven which is summarized in “gazing upon the face of the Lord and delighting in his felicity. The joy that should characterize us should therefore be the faith that makes us hope that one day, with our loved ones, we will be sharing in God’s eternal joy.
What are therefore the requirements? This month of November gives us a hint. First of all we are given the opportunity to pray for our departed brothers and sisters. Praying for them is an expression of our desire and faith to have them share in God’s eternal happiness. That desire constitutes for us the living a call to strive to live up God’s commandments. To long for communion with God in heaven requires from on our part constant effort to accept martyrdom; that is to bear witness as disciples. We are called to respond to the question: how do I prepare my heaven while on earth? What is my thought about life after death? Do I live as someone on pilgrimage or do I think everything ends here on earth?
As we all long to see the face of God, let us strive to hunger for the realities of heaven and conduct our lives as true pilgrims; and let us continue to pray for one another and for our parish family.