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King Antiochus or Saint Clement I . . . Whose Path Will You Blaze?

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They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.“ ~ Luke 20:36

Today’s Gospel (Luke 20:27-40) details a conversation Jesus had with a few members of the Sadducees, those who did not believe in the resurrection, life after death. As you read this passage, it’s striking to notice the difference between perspectives, mindsets and priorities. This of course holds true in our world today as well. Think for a moment of those you know who live their lives rooted in the eternal promise of heavenly glory with the risen Jesus as opposed to those of a pure secular bent, those who presumably believe that everything in the end is insignificant, destined to merely disintegrate into ashes and dust.

Peace of mind as opposed to needless worry and unending anxiety. A desire to love one’s neighbor instead of a “me versus them” mentality. A forgiving nature versus a wrathful mindset, one which thirsts for revenge. Worshipping Jesus as opposed to the worshipping of famous people, pretty and pricey things or even worse, the worship of one’s self.

As Bishop Barron points out in his morning reflection “those who hold to the resurrection of the body are those who are most effective at working for justice and peace in this world. If you are a complete materialist and secularist, you hold that everything and everybody, in the end, just fades away. But if you believe in the resurrection of the body, then everything in this world is destined for redemption. Everything matters.”

In our 1st Reading today (1 Maccabees 6:1-13), we revisit the tragic tale of King Antiochus, who by way of his avarice and unquenchable lust for power was relegated to a muttering, grief-stricken shell of his former self, wallowing in the bitter grief that would ultimately claim his very life as a result of his plundering army’s defeat at the hands of the Israelites. His life stands in stark contrast to that of the man whose Feast Day we celebrate today, Saint Clement I.

The 4th Pope of our Church and one of the 3 Apostolic Fathers, Saint Clement I authored the ‘First Epistle to the Corinthians,’ wherein he explains that “the world and the world to come are two enemies. We cannot therefore be friends to both; but we must decide which we will forsake and which we will enjoy.” By virtue of his martyrdom in the year 99 AD, we know which path Saint Clement I chose.

We too have a choice. Which will it be? The unrelenting pursuit of the things of this world or will we die to self and choose the path that will one day open the door to paradise?

“Dear Lord, help us to go about everything we do with our gaze fixed firmly on eternity, where we will someday live in the light of your presence forever.” ~ Amen