November 20, 2021
Saturday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 9 and its beautiful verse which is echoed in several other Psalms:
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart;Psalm 9: 2-3
I will declare all your wondrous deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, Most High.
Like so many of our readings lately, today’s point us toward a consideration of the “afterlife” or the “end times”. I know you may have had enough of such considerations, but the Church isn’t giving up quite yet!
Maccabees gives us a colorful account of the defeat, dismay and ultimate death of Antiochus IV, persecutor of the Jews. The account, like most of the Books of Maccabees, is primarily historical, not spiritual or theological. But threaded through the books, of course, is the underlying biblical orientation that God-Yahweh is present and active in all life’s circumstances.
Today’s passage has even pagan Antiochus considering how God/Fate has brought him to judgement- to “payback” time:
But I now recall the evils I did in Jerusalem,1 Maccabees 6:11-13
when I carried away all the vessels of gold and silver
that were in it, and for no cause
gave orders that the inhabitants of Judah be destroyed.
I know that this is why these evils have overtaken me;
and now I am dying, in bitter grief, in a foreign land.
In our Gospel account, some Sadducees question Jesus about marriage laws and the afterlife. Their questioning reminds me of modern songwriter Eric Clapton’s musings in his song:
Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton
Jesus doesn’t sing to the Sadducees, as far as I know. Rather, he answers them this way:
Those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming ageLuke 20:35-36
and to the resurrection of the dead
neither marry nor are given in marriage.
They can no longer die,
for they are like angels;
and they are the children of God
because they are the ones who will rise.
So for us today, the questions and concerns of both Antiochus and the Sadducees might lead us to consider how we feel about the “afterlife”.
Do you ever wonder what heaven will be like? Will we see our beloveds once again? Will we see our “unbeloveds” too and what will that be like!! Do you calculate whether or not you’ll even make the cut through the Pearly Gates?
When I think about heaven these two promises of Jesus sustain, comfort and animate me. Maybe you’ll consider their power too as you pray today.
I have come that you may have life,John 10:10
and have it to the full.
Eternal life is this, that they know you,John 17:3
the only true God,
and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
Poetry: Heaven-Haven (1864) – Gerard Manley Hopkins
A nun takes the veil
I have desired to go Where springs not fail, To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail, And a few lilies blow. And I have asked to be Where no storms come, Where the green swell is in the havens dumb, And out of the swing of the sea.
Music: Here’s a beautiful piece of music to accompany you in your “considerations”.
Nocturne No.20 in C-Sharp Minor – Frédéric Chopin, played by Joshua Bell