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Scripture Readings: Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Print PDF: Weekly Homily 11.10.2013
Our first snow last Monday was a clear reminder. It is November – a time to contemplate “The Communion of Saints.” In my homily last week I referred to Norman Mclean’s novel, “A River Runs Through It.” I think Mclean’s powerful story about fly-fishing on the Blackfoot River is about so much more than fly-fishing! For me it provides a great mantra for our November reflection;
“It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us.
Now nearly all those I loved and did not understand when I was
young are dead, but I still reach out to them.…. Eventually all
things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”
Physical aches and limitations remind me, and those my age, that we are no longer youngsters. As I contemplate the possibility of being 80 years of age, I become more understanding of “all those I did not understand when I was young.” Life is in the living.
We all know the final sentence in the Nicean Creed. “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” We may or may not speak those words with conviction. It is not that we don’t believe. The problem for us is that those words admit we will die. Most of us don’t look forward to that experience with anticipation.
On the other hand I do contemplate “the Communion of Saints” with anticipation because that simple phrase is about the dance of life. The implication is that life continues, and in the Risen Christ, “all things merge into one.” I often ponder and seek to clarify for myself what that means.
In his gospel Luke claims a group of Sadducees came to Jesus and confronted him with an absurd question. The Levirate law provided for the marriage of a widow to her deceased husband’s brother so as to safeguard the continuance of the family line.
The Jewish contemporaries of Jesus were very similar to us. They were divided into religious and political factions, with varying theologies and different ways of interpreting the sacred texts and religious traditions. A clear divide existed between the Pharisees who believed in the possibility of resurrection – life beyond the grave, and the Sadducees who rejected the possibility.
Although he had neither formal training, nor infused knowledge, Jesus had reached his own conclusions. He cut through their narrow assumptions saying they understood neither God nor the scriptures. He is saying there is resurrection and points out that resurrected life is not merely a continuation of this life. It is an entirely new mode of existence! There is a radical difference between life on this planet and life beyond death. Resurrection life is so totally new that nothing of our experience compares with it. We hope for it, but can never describe or explain it.
Jesus was convinced of resurrection life because of his personal experience of that Gracious Mystery we name God. Whatever his experience, he was convinced that Gracious Mystery is an inexhaustible source of life. He was convinced our intimate relationship with God cannot be lessened or destroyed.
Will resurrection life be life as we know it now? This text says no! It will be an entirely different experience. Will my body be in some new form of existence? The Easter event says yes, we will be fully human — bodied spirits, in an entirely new way! I often wonder and personally hope we will see and be with our loves ones again. Will we? We don’t know! Faith is choosing to trust, in the face of every negation, that the unconditional love and fidelity of the Gracious Mystery of life is bringing us into an unknown future of possibility and life. “I have come that you may have life, and have it in the fullest.”
We are, all of us, on the same journey. For that reason we celebrate Eucharist, mindful that “eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” The river is Christ!