NOT A GOD OF THE DEAD, BUT OF THE LIVING
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
November 10, 2013
N.B. I would like to join CNN, and the rest of the world, in paying tribute to my suffering compatriots down south in Central Philippines, who braved through the strongest tropical cyclone on earth in about three decades, by posting this pic I grabbed from CNN
NOT A GOD OF THE DEAD, BUT OF THE LIVING
Despite the systematic drive of anti-Catholics, most Filipinos trooped to the cemeteries, brought and lit candles and offered flowers for their beloved dead. Many also offered prayers and had the names of their beloved deceased relatives written and brought at the foot of altars in innumerable churches all over the country. They all are symbols and at the same time, actualizations of what many of us believe – that for us Christians, life is changed, not ended, and that we owe it to those who have gone ahead of us, to intercede for them, pray for them, that they all might be granted, in God’s mercy, eternal rest with Him in heaven.
Of course, we just don’t pray for their “eternal rest.” Souls don’t have weary bodies anymore as to need “rest.” But “rest” here, of course, stands for rest with God, union with God, eternal salvation in Christ, and full redemption just as God had promised in the same Jesus Christ, His Son, our Lord.
Belief has a lot to do with what we pray for, and how we pray. In Latin, that’s a real old saying that is worth remembering … lex credendi, lex orandi. What one believes shows in what one prays for and how one prays in general. So, too, with the whole community of believers called the Church. The Church’s prayer has always been attuned to the same Church’s belief systems.
What, you might ask, is the Church’s most important belief with regard to life in its fullness, as God would have us live?
Simply put, it is called the Church’s constant teaching about life going beyond the merely physical and palpable level. It has to do with the Church’s conviction that life is a continuum and that it does not end with physical or bodily death. It has to do, too, with the fact that death for Christ and His followers is actually a bend to pass through, not an end that puts a full stop to living here and now.
Death for us Christian believers is exactly how the Maccabean brothers thought of it to be. Yes … they believed in life after physical death, life in its fullness; life as God willed it. And they stated their belief quite unhesitatingly: “You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever. It is for his laws that we are dying.”
This, too, is what the Gospel passage reminds us of. Through a dramatic, - if, highly improbable scenario – the seven brothers who each had to marry the same woman when all of them died one after another, shows us that life here on earth is but temporary, along with what the world considers as undying bonds while on earth. But life on earth, and everything that it entails as earthly realities, are ephemeral. They are not permanent. They all can be cut short by physical death.
But there is one thing that cannot be cut short, that cannot be denied, that no earthly power can take away…
We call this eternal life – that which goes beyond earthly and bodily demise, that which happens after we say good-bye to this world. And this happens because we believe, as Christ taught us, in the resurrection of the dead, and life everlasting with the Trinitarian God in heaven!
Nothing is permanent in this world. “Here, we have no lasting city.” Yes … even the billions that corrupt legislators and politicians divided among themselves did not last. Yes … even the whole corrupt system concocted by the top most powerful people in and out of government … Whistleblowers, for whatever motive, not excluding the religious motive of finally seeing the light and turning back to the Lord in repentance, managed to expose the whole abominable and abhorrent deed.
Nothing lasts. Nothing remains as is. Todo se pasa, St. Teresa of Avila wrote long ago. All things change. Only God never changes. Solo Dios no se muda! And one of those Godly teachings that don’t go away with the wisp of changing wind or violent tempest is the teaching, and our conviction that the dead will rise again on the last day.
We will rise again. We will rise again. To new life. To a new heavens and a new earth! “Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.” For you are a God, not of the dead, but of the living!