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The God of the Living


“Only our concept of time makes it possible for us to speak of the Day of Judgment by that name; in reality it is a constant court in perpetual session.” ~ Franz Kafka

As the Catholic Church approaches the end of the liturgical year, the readings chosen for Holy Mass focus largely on prophecies of the end times, the life of the world to come, the Kingdom of Heaven, and what are traditionally known as the Four Last Things, those being death, judgment, heaven and hell.

Death is of course an approaching reality for everyone, arriving at different times and in diverse fashion, as death is wont to do. “I’m not afraid of death,” Woody Allen once said, facetiously going on to conclude “I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” As Christians who have been baptized into Christ’s death (Romans 6:3), we do not fear death because we possess the hope of the resurrection, purchased for us by way of the salvific work of Jesus Christ.

In today’s Gospel (Luke 20:27-40), we receive an in-depth teaching on the resurrection of the dead from none other then the previously aforementioned Savior Himself, Jesus Christ. The Sadducees, fundamentally hopeless men by virtue of their disbelief in the resurrection, seek to stump Jesus with an outlandish scenario, one which we reflected upon by way of Mark’s rendition of this encounter not long ago

The notion of a woman taking seven husbands is obviously absurd, the exploits of Elizabeth Taylor and Zsa Zsa Gabor notwithstanding. Jesus nonetheless uses this as a teaching opportunity on a topic that is far from absurd, utterly critical, and very, very real. He first states that “Those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.” The mere fact that Jesus speaks of those who are “deemed worthy” suggests that there is in fact a day of judgment .

It also implies that some will be deemed unworthy.

The Book of Revelation clearly states that there will be a resurrection of the dead, wherein the just will experience the resurrection of life while the wicked and unjust will tragically experience the resurrection of condemnation. After the resurrection, there will be no more death (Revelation 21:4). Death has lost, in stunning fashion I might add, annihilated by way of the cross and resurrection of Jesus. Last Saturday afternoon while at lunch with my sister I happened to glance at a nearby flat screen television and saw that the University of Alabama football team defeated New Mexico State 59-3. That game was a nail-biter compared to Jesus’ victory over sin and death.

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The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “Faith in the resurrection rests on faith in God, who is not God of the dead but of the living.“ (993). The mystery of the resurrection of the dead, that which we all await ~ some with joy and hope, others with anxiety and dread ~ remains just that; a mystery. It’s scope and breadth is limited only to the confines of our imagination. We do know however that the resurrection will be followed by the final judgment. Much like death, the prospect of a final judgment should not elicit fear or angst among those who love the Lord. They have faith in the promises of a God who keeps his promises. Always. They despise sin but when they fall, not if, they are swift to humbly repent, get back up, and vow to do better. Their life is rooted in love of God and love of neighbor, for in that is everything.

Yes, our God is a God of the living. In the words of author Miguel de Unamuno, “…this God, the living God, your God, our God, is in me, is in you, lives in us, and we live and move and have our being in Him. He is in us by virtue of the hunger, the longing, which we have for Him, He is Himself creating the longing for Himself”

Now is an acceptable time (2 Corinthians 6:2) to choose life, eternal life in paradise with the God of the living. For as we will hear in tomorrow’s 1st reading on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the final Sunday of the liturgical year known to many as Christ the King Sunday, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.” (7:14). Destruction is instead the hapless and devastating fate of those who enter the Kingdom of death, Satan’s horrid den of abomination and eternal hopelessness. The God of the living, true to his majestic moniker, is the giver of life. . . Eternal life.

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