The Answer
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

It is truly amazing what some people are willing to suffer in order to gain or sustain the approval of their god or gods. The Seven Brothers in 2 Maccabees, chapter 7. The Japanese suicide pilots of the Second World War and the Moslem extremists of today. All of them facing death with gut-wrenching fear; but also with an all-conquering hope in a God who will greet and reward them on the other side of death.

For two thousand years, Christian saints and mystics have looked upon life as a voyage and upon death as the welcome terminal through which we have but to pass in order to reach home. "But", ask the Saducees in Luke Chapter 20, verse 27, "When we pass through that terminal, do we pause to pick up the baggage of a lifetime, or do we step out into eternity as naked as we were when we entered into the realm of time? For example: Can "love" from the past cross over the grave?

The Saducees were not the first ones to ask these questions. But they might well have been the first to get the answer. They got that answer from Jesus who is God. Jesus told them that our past, the memories of deeds done and undone, of loves and of loves lost, do cross the grave. Because, said Jesus, for God, all are alive on both sides of the grave. You see, the dead are dead only for us! During that period of painful separation God ministers to us by giving us hope. Hope to sustain us in our most lonely moments. Now sometimes our hope becomes misdirected and our expectations become confused and unrealistic. More often than not this is because we remain tethered to this side of the grave and to the structures and institutions uniquely proper to this world.

No, I will not celebrate Mass in the next life. Nor will you sleep in the loving arms of your spouse. But we will remain WHO we ARE and we will be "recognized" by Jesus and by each other and our knowledge and love will be so intimate, so complete and fulfilling as to render our fondest memories and our greatest hopes and aspirations paltry by comparison.

And so, in the meantime, and in the words of St. Paul... "May the Lord turn your hearts toward the love of God and the patient fortitude of Christ."

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