32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 6, 2016 – Year C
Readings: 2 Mc 7:1-2, 9-14 / Psalm 17 / 2 Thes 2:16-3:5 / Lk 20:27-38
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon
In case you haven’t noticed, the year is coming to an end. While 2016 is indeed coming to an end, our church year ends before then. The liturgical year will end at the completion of the second period of Ordinary Time, and a new liturgical year will begin with the first Sunday of Advent. Additionally, the year is broken up into seasons and there is a 3 year cycle of readings – A, B and C. In 2016 we have been reading from cycle C which focuses on the Gospel of Luke. When we begin the next year we will read cycle A, which focuses on Matthew.
As the year has progressed, we have followed the life of Jesus in chronological order, with limited exceptions. Today’s Gospel continues that process. It is taken from the narrative just before Jesus enters Jerusalem for the last time. This chapter of Luke starts out with Jesus weeping over the destruction of Jerusalem. He then cleanses the temple and begins teaching in the temple area. The Scribes, Pharisee and Sadducees start to track him in order to stop him.
It is no accident that the readings start to take on an eschatological tone as we come to the end of the liturgical year. This is appropriate because eschatology has to do with the “end times” and the second coming of Jesus. Today, the readings focus on the resurrection of the body.
I must confess that I hadn’t given the resurrection of the body much thought until I was over twenty years old, started attending Mass and was exposed to the Creed with its statement of belief in the resurrection of the body. After some thought, I remembered that Scripture did mention this. While some of my friends had spent much time reading the book of Revelation and were quite knowledgeable of end time teaching, I hadn’t. They often spoke of Jesus’ second coming and the end of the world, but I spent more time focusing on the practical side of things.
Since the end of the world is coming and I can’t do anything to change that, I continue to focus on what I can do in the present to more closely follow Jesus and reach heaven. But today’s readings are a reminder that while we typically focus on getting to heaven, that’s not the end. Our faith teaches us that when Jesus comes again, the world we know will be destroyed, a new heaven and new earth will be created and our bodies will be resurrected.
These readings remind us of the danger in focusing just on heaven. While heaven is our goal -which is a good thing – if we focus on heaven to the exclusion of the resurrection, we can lose sight of some important parts of our faith. One of those things is our physical world. Sometimes when we see only the bad side of the world, we can begin to see the world as bad. Our faith teaches us that this isn’t so. In the book of Genesis, when God created the world and all its parts, He declared all of it to be good. When God says something is good, it is good. Admittedly, the world has lost some of its luster, but it is still good. It is still the stage where we live our lives as children of God, with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Another danger is that we can forget that to be fully human is to be body and soul. We are not angels who have no body but are just spirit. We will never be angels; we are humans even when we get to heaven. We will see God face to face but we will be different from angels. Our bodies are part of God’s creation and are good. They are part of us and shouldn’t be neglected; they are how we serve the Lord.
Consider that our worship is physical; we sing, we speak, we touch, we hear, we taste. We engage all of our senses. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. As such, every aspect of our faith is noted within the Mass. I already mentioned that you can see the resurrection in the Mass as part of the Creed. You can also find reference to the resurrection in Mass, during the preparation of the gifts, when the Priest or Deacon adds water to the wine and prays a special prayer: “Through the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ Who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.” God loved us so much that He became one of us; He became human with a body and soul, like us in everything except sin. He showed us how to live our life in this physical world, how to leave this life and how we will reenter the physical world.
The readings today tell us that Jesus is the first born of the dead. The reason He is the firstborn is that He is not the last. One day we will join him and like Christ we will have our bodies again, glorified bodies that are like His. So let us keep that in mind as we live our lives in this physical world as Children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ