Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 6, 2022
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, one theme threaded through our readings is that of “The Law”.
“Law” is a frustratingly elastic word and concept which runs the gamut from tyranny to benevolent guidance depending on who administers it.
In both our first reading and our Gospel, we find people trying to curtail the freedom of others by invoking the Law. In 2 Maccabees, King Antiochus attempts to incorporate the Jewish people by fracturing their religious practice, that which identifies and unites them as Jews. On the surface, the story seems to be about eating pork, and one might wonder if that resistance is worth dying for.
But the real conflict is between tyrannical domination and spiritual freedom, between “Empire” and “Kingdom” – a struggle we have seen endlessly repeated through history and current events.
When “law” is interpreted to advantage some and suppress others, it is no longer law. The essence of law is always the wise administration of mercy balanced with justice. The understanding of such law grows from covenanted relationship with the Creator who wills the good and wholeness of all Creatures.
In today’s Gospel, some Sadducees (perhaps sincere, but more likely trying to trap Jesus) ask him to solve a hypothetical problem regarding marriage in the afterlife.
Jesus doesn’t bite. He explains to the questioners that eternal life transcends all their human perceptions of time, relationship and law. The earthly laws by which we either bind or free one another in this world evaporate in Heaven. Only Mercy and Justice order eternal life in the Kingdom of God. ultimately, “law” is alignment of heart with God’s.
Paul tells us that we are called to be examples of that eternal kingdom now. He knows how hard it is, and so he blesses us:
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement
and good hope through his grace,
encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed
Poetry: The Higher Pantheism – Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the hills and the plains,-
Are not these, O Soul, the Vision of Him who reigns?
Is not the Vision He, tho’ He be not that which He seems?
Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?
Earth, these solid stars, this weight of body and limb,
Are they not sign and symbol of thy division from Him?
Dark is the world to thee; thyself art the reason why,
For is He not all but thou, that hast power to feel “I am I”?
Glory about thee, without thee; and thou fulfillest thy doom,
Making Him broken gleams and a stifled splendour and gloom.
Speak to Him, thou, for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit can meet-
Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.
God is law, say the wise; O soul, and let us rejoice,
For if He thunder by law the thunder is yet His voice.
Law is God, say some; no God at all, says the fool,
For all we have power to see is a straight staff bent in a pool;
And the ear of man cannot hear, and the eye of man cannot see;
But if we could see and hear, this Vision-were it not He?
Music: The Law of the Lord is Perfect