November 7, 2010
ORDINARY 32 (C)
They are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.
- Luke 20: 36
A skeptic once challenged a priest. He said, “If you really believe what you preach, drink this poison here & if you don’t die, I’ll believe.” The priest retorted, “I have a better plan. You drink the poison & I’ll raise you up!”
Today’s topic is the resurrection, which should not be confused with the immortality of the soul. Our belief is not that the soul lives on apart from the body, but that the whole embodied person will live. Like Jesus, ALL of us will be raised up, not just the soul.
Secondly, in talking about the resurrection, the focus must be entirely on God & God’s promises. We all have a deep desire to find completion & permanence in an ever-changing world. All these yearnings suggest a place for us, an eternity.
We Christians resonate with God’s promises to love & cherish us, to be with us always, knowing such promises are not conditioned by boundaries, space, or time. God is faithful & that is all we need to know & that is cause enough for joy. Having created us, God is simply unwilling to let us go – ever. Remember that.
When we shift our focus from God to ourselves, THEN we get bogged down in all those “me” questions: Will I still need glasses? What will I look like? Will my dog be there? Will I know my friends?
Since the resurrection is not about us, such questions are not primary. God’s promise is never to abandon us, & He will work out the details. For a person of faith, abandonment anxiety is a non-starter.
Yes, Hollywood offers ghosts, ghouls, zombies, dead baseball players on fields of dreams, & literature offers us Hamlet’s father & Washington Irving’s Headless Horseman; but these concoctions say little about people of the resurrection. Jesus Himself doesn’t reveal much either, except to say that eternal life will be different, a dimension beyond our comprehension. So He tells the Sadducees that they are simply wrongheaded. The continuation of life through marriage & children is not needed where extinction is not the issue. It will be a whole new order of existence.
Occasionally, though, we get hints of that new order. Have you ever had a dream about someone you know? I have. I don’t see that person or touch them, but I’m certain I know who it is. Or if I do not know who it is, I know what they are feeling. I can’t say HOW I know, I just do. The spiritual masters call this infused grace.
Life is unpredictable & uncertain, which means there is room for “ravishing mystery.” Those who have experienced first hand the love of God in their lives cannot put a period to death because they just know – they cannot always explain it, but they feel certain that God does keep His promises. Rudolf Otto called it the “mysterium tremendum,” that overwhelming mystery that brings with it a peace that passes understanding. AMEN!