Thirty-second Sunday in the Ordinary TimeC
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Thirty-second Sunday in the Ordinary TimeC

Sunday of the 32 OTC

 

Readings: 2 Mac 7:1-2, 9-14; 2 Thes 2:15-3:5; Lk 20:27-38

 

1/ Reading I: RSV 2 Maccabees 7:1 It happened also that seven brothers and their mother were arrested and were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and cords, to partake of unlawful swine's flesh. 2 One of them, acting as their spokesman, said, "What do you intend to ask and learn from us? For we are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our fathers." 9 And when he was at his last breath, he said, "You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws." 10 After him, the third was the victim of their sport. When it was demanded, he quickly put out his tongue and courageously stretched forth his hands, 11 and said nobly, "I got these from Heaven, and because of his laws I disdain them, and from him I hope to get them back again." 12 As a result the king himself and those with him were astonished at the young man's spirit, for he regarded his sufferings as nothing. 13 When he too had died, they maltreated and tortured the fourth in the same way. 14 And when he was near death, he said, "One cannot but choose to die at the hands of men and to cherish the hope that God gives of being raised again by him. But for you there will be no resurrection to life!"

 

2/ Reading II: RSV 2 Thessalonians 2:15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter. 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph, as it did among you, 2 and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men; for not all have faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from evil. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things which we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

 

3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 20:27 There came to him some Sadducees, those who say that there is no resurrection, 28 and they asked him a question, saying, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the wife and raise up children for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and died without children; 30 and the second 31 and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. 32 Afterward the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife." 34 And Jesus said to them, "The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; 35 but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36 for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him."



I. THEME: The ultimate purpose of our life is the eternal life.

            When people do something, they do it for a purpose; they shall not do anything without a purpose. So, before people know how to live their life, they must know what is the ultimate purpose of their life? If it were the eternal life, how must they live their life in order to attain that eternal life? These are the most important questions of life which everyone must make an effort to find out the answers for them.

            The readings of three last weeks of the liturgical year concentrate on giving the answers for the above questions. In the first of today readings, the author reported the martyrdoms of Maccabean brothers. They were ready to sacrifice their lives for faithful keeping their ancestors’ law which prohibit the eating of swine meat because they believed that God shall reward them with the eternal life. In the second reading, St. Paul advised the Thessalonian faithful to imitate Christ in living their life. He was faithful until the last drop of his blood to fulfill His Father’s will, to bring the eternal life for all people. In the Gospel, the Sadducees wanted to use their reason to prove to Jesus that there is no eternal life. Jesus used their faith in Scripture to counter-prove that God is the God of the living, not of the dead. At the same time, he revealed something about what shall happen in the eternal life.

 

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “You dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life.”

           

1.1/ The faith of the Maccabees’ brothers: Through their answer to king Antiochus, we can provide a sketch of their faith as following:

            - They believe in the eternal life, “The King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws.”

            - God shall give the eternal life for those who believe and be faithful witnesses for Him.

            - They believed that to die for the law is to prove their faithfulness to God.

            - They believe God is the Lord both of this life and the next life.

            - They believed the wicked can take away their body but can’t destroy their soul. God shall give back to them both soul and body, as the third brother nobly proclaimed, “I got these (his tongue and hands) from heaven, and because of his laws I disdain them, and from him I hope to get them back again.” This is the first time the faith in resurrection is recorded in Scripture, the sentence from Daniel 7:14 only revealed about the eternal life.

            - They believed the wicked shall be punished because they take away the innocent life. Such people shall not inherit the eternal life.

1.2/ The living witness of the Maccabees’ brothers: Most people usually prefer life over death; why the Maccabees’ brothers were ready to accept prison, scourging and even death to the point that even those who are torturing and taking their lives away are startled because of their courage and despising of suffering and death.

            The eating of swine meat isn’t a problem for the Gentiles; but according to the Levitical law, the Jews can’t eat it because swines are considered unclean animals. When a Jew eats swine meat, he becomes impure and is rendered unclean; he can’t enter the Jerusalem temple to offer any sacrifice to God (Lev 11:4-7).

 

2/ Reading II: “Stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.”

2.1/ St. Paul’s hope in God’s promise: According to Paul, God puts the hope for the eternal life in human souls. This desire for eternal life can’t be destroyed even the original sin and countless sins of human beings. Christ’s death and resurrection are the guarantee of the hope for eternal life because he wipes away people’s sins and reconciles them to God.

            The faithful need to firmly hold on this hope and should never fall in the devil’s trap to lose this desire for eternal life. St. Paul knew his faithful are surrounded by many false doctrines that threaten them to forget this hope, so he wholeheartedly advised them as following, “So, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”

           

2.2/ St. Paul’s living witness: When clearly understood and firmly hope in the eternal life, Paul used all his time and efforts for his mission of preaching the gospel; he wanted for many people to have the same hope as he has. Paul patiently suffered from many wicked people but never curse them. He strongly believe that God shall protect him from all dangers.

            According to Paul, the faithful never fight alone; they have many helps from God and Christ. Based on what Paul advised the Thessalonians, we can draw out the interactive sketch between God and the faithful as follows:

            (1) On God’s part: He shall do two things:

            - First, he strengthen the faithful with His grace: Leaving to themselves, the faithful have no strength to fight against three very dangerous enemies which are: the devil, the world and their own flesh. This is the reason why God bestows His grace through the sacraments, established by Christ, and prayer. If the faithful don’t often receive grace through sacraments and prayer, they shall have no strength to fight.

            - Secondly, God protects the faithful from the devil: Christ was victorious over all attacks of evil, especially over sins and death. The faithful who are faithfully following Christ shall be protected from all the devil’s attacks and the dangers of sins.

            (2) On the faithful’s part: To be loyal to God, the faithful must also do two things:

            - First, they must love God above all things; they can’t love anything more than Him. If the faithful chase after worldly allurements, they shall gradually lose their faith in God, their hope in the eternal life and their love for Him.

            - Secondly, they must patiently endure suffering as Christ did: To show their faith and love for God, the faithful must suffer and overcome all trials of their life. This is the way which God wants, this is the way which Christ and all the saints passed through; and this is also the way which all faithful must go through before they can attain the eternal life.

 

3/ Gospel: “They cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”

           

3.1/ The Sadducees posed a question to Jesus to prove that there is no resurrection.

            The Jewish long tradition believes this life is all what they have; once they pass away, there is nothing else. We can see the reflection of this faith in the Books of Wisdom, such as the Book of Job and Ecclesiastes (about 5 to 6 B.C.). Beginning of 1-2 B.C., the faith in the resurrection and the eternal life began to appear in the Book of Wisdom, Daniel and I, II Maccabees. However, not all the Jews believe in the resurrection, to wit, the Pharisees believe in the resurrection while the Sadducees don’t. The Sadducees only believe in Moses and the law; this is why they came to Jesus and pose to him a question with their aim to prove that there is no resurrection: “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the wife and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and died without children; and the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.”

            Their question, though based on the law, but isn't happened on a real life. To them, if there were resurrection, whom of the seven brothers she shall belong to?

3.2/ Jesus’ answer for them: Jesus separated their two problems, marriage and resurrection; at the same time, he corrected their wrong faith.

            (1) About the marriage: Jesus revealed, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.” The marriage only happens in this world; all are brothers and sisters in the next life. People have no need of marriage in heaven as the Muslims believe.

            (2) About resurrection: Jesus revealed, “For they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” Though still having a body in the eternal life, not as a physical body as we have now, but a body as the resurrected Christ has. It shall not be affected by time and the principles of the universe.

            (3) Jesus used the law to correct their false belief: He continued, “But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him.”

            In God’s theophany to Moses (Exo 3:1-6), He revealed to Moses two titles: First, He is “I am” (Exo 3:14) which means “He always lives.” Secondly, “He is the God of their forefathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Exo 3:15). Jesus wanted to say to the Sadducees that if they believe in the Scripture, i.e., the Exodus 3:15, they must believe that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are living because God isn’t God of the dead but of the living.

 

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:

 

            - People of every generation desire to live and to live forever. This desire is real because God puts this desire in their souls; and He fulfills this desire through Christ’s death and resurrection.

            - To attain the eternal life, people need to put their faith wholeheartedly in Christ and faithfully keep what he teaches.

            - In the Last Day, our bodies shall be resurrected and united with our souls. We shall live like angels, not to depend on material things as we do now.