In the Gospel reading for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Luke 20:27–38 Year C), we find the Sadducees proposing a riddle of sorts to Jesus about seven brothers and a childless widow. The Sadducees are actually mocking the faith for which seven brothers and their mother die in the First Reading. The Maccabean martyrs chose torture and death rather than betray God’s Law.
It's no mistake that this story is given to us in the last few weeks of the Church year to fortify us for perseverance. We look forward to coming to that moment in the Church’s liturgical calendar where we meet Christ as King of the Universe. The Church’s calendar is always a microcosm for our spiritual lives. The Maccabees also died hopeful that the “King of the World” would raise them to eternal life (2 Maccabees 14:46). We and the Maccabees see eye to eye.
The Sadducees, on the other hand, do not believe in the resurrection because of their rather literal reading of the Scriptures. To further ridicule this belief, the Sadducees focus in on a law that requires a woman to marry her husband’s brother if he should die without leaving an heir (Gen. 38:8; Deut. 25:5). However, God’s Law wasn’t given with the intent to ensure the raising up of heirs to earthly fathers. Jesus explains that the Law was given to make us worthy to be “children of God”. Furthermore, the true sons and daughters born of His Resurrection.
The Epistle reinforces our faith by telling us that “God our Father,” has given us “everlasting encouragement” in the Resurrection of Christ. Through His grace, we can now direct our hearts to the love of God. Just like the Maccabees suffered for the Old Law, we will have to suffer for our faith in the New Covenant. However, God will guard us in the shadow of His wing, keep us as the apple of His eye, as we hear in today’s Psalm.
The Maccabeans’ persecutors seemed astonished at the willingness to suffer. We can do this, too. Our sufferings and sacrifices will not necessarily be at the hands of oppressors or persecutors, but we can glorify God in our sufferings and in the daily sacrifices we make. And how much more is our cause for hope than how the Maccabeans hoped? The One who has risen from the dead has given us His word. He is the God of the living and when we awake from the sleep of death, we will see His face and be content in His presence. Let us all proceed with a strong faith in our Redeemer as we continue to look forward to seeing with our own eyes Jesus Christ crowned King of all Creation.
~ Frank DeSalvatore