31st Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B - 4th November 2018
Autumn and November remind us gently of death. The trees losing their leaves will soon stand our like skeletons against the skyline; cold winds blow, darkness sets in early.
Yet, as we know that Spring will come bringing new growth, so any thought of death is softened by this promise of new life. In a far less gentle way, news headlines bring death daily before our eyes - endless wars, death on the roads, terrorism on the streets, violence in the home.
Yet in the midst of killings, of suffering, of disunity, of despair, the Christian see hope, "relying", as the first reading said, "on God's promise that we shall be raised up by him".
Christianity is the religion of the optimist because belief in an afterlife is one of the most important beliefs of our faith. We profess it very time we say the Creed: "We look for the resurrection of the dead and life of the world to come".
To think like an optimist is not too difficult, to live like one is more challenging. The living Christ, the resurrected Chris in his Church gives us the strength to face that challenge.
Today's Gospel focuses on that resurrection - foolishness to some but the source of hope for others.
The Sadducees did not agree with the pharisaic idea of bodily resurrection so they posed their exaggerated question to Jesus, hoping to trap him.
But Jesus points out that both views are wrong. The risen life is not earthly life prolonged, it is a new experience. Christ didn't explain the resurrection, He affirmed it as a fact and rose from death to prove it.
What we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed, as St. John tells us, and Paul tells us as the seed sown differs from the plant it produces, so life on earth differs from the resurrected state.
In these times of violence and death, we should be less concerned with the "how" but more concerned to value life that will never end and witness to our Christian belief and hope by the life we live.
As we move towards the end of the Church's year, the Sunday readings remind us to think of the end. This is not an invitation to worry or be perplexed about what we do not know - it is rather and invitation to hope and have confidence in God's great design for us.
We cannot imagine the joy and the life of this resurrection in Chris. We can only yearn with St. Paul for that indescribable experience, believing it to be the hearts "all in all". "Eye has not seen nor has the ear ever heard nor has the heart of men remotely imagined the joys which God has prepared for those who love him" 1 Corinthians 2:9
Fr Eamon Rafferty CM