November 6, 2022 at St. Peter Parish in Naples, FL
2 Maccabees 7, 1-2. 9-14 + Psalm 17 + 2 Thessalonians 2, 16-3,5 2 + Luke 20, 27-38
The journey of Jesus to Jerusalem is complete. Jesus is there in the Temple. In Luke’s Gospel, the Temple is the place it all began and the place where it all ends. Like bookends, Luke frames his Gospel from the moment the old priest, Zechariah is visited by an angel in the Temple to this moment when Jesus stands in that Temple the mission of Jesus unfolds for us. Earlier he has cleansed the Temple, almost claiming it for himself. Unafraid of his opposition, he teaches openly and bravely while his enemies continue to harass him. On this day, they come with a ridiculous proposition not so much to trap him as to ridicule him.
It has nothing to do with marriage, and Jesus knows that. It has to do with getting Jesus to take a side in the ongoing debate at the time over life after death. Those Sadducees want to ridicule the whole idea of life after death, and in so doing make Jesus look like a fool. They think that a man lived only through his descendants which is the issue on their silly story. Jesus insists that life has nothing to do with children or anything humans think they can produce, and with this conflict, the very meaning of human life is raised up for reflection. The meaning of life itself is ultimately what this is all about, and today we are challenged by this Gospel to resolve what human life, our life is all about.
The times and culture in which we find ourselves deserve some critique. Evidence is all around us that belief in eternal life is not strong. The very meaning of our existence is called into question today. What is it that matters in this life? What is it that gives us meaning and purpose is the question. For me, the clearest indication that belief in eternal life is not commonly shared shows itself at funerals when someone gets up to give a eulogy. Nine times out of ten they will talk about what the dead person did, or said, their work or their interests. When someone speaks about the dead in terms of their faith and their relationship with God, something else is being revealed.
Jesus invites us to imagine and dream of all the love we can give and receive. He invites us to see in relationships the meaning of life. Possessions do not give us genuine meaning, and no legacy or any estate we leave behind will give meaning to our lives. Jesus invites us to open our imaginations to understand life in terms of where we are headed. The trouble is, too often too few of us ever give much thought to where we are headed acting as though they believed there is no life after death.
Well, there is, and we who believe that cherish the words of our Holy Father Francis, who says: “Life exists where there is bonding, communion, fraternity; and life is stronger than death when it is built on true relationship and bonds of fidelity.” Here in this church, here at this altar we restore, nurture, and rediscover those relationships with one another in communion and with the one who feeds us with food for the journey. Life does have meaning but it will never be found in the things of this earth or things made by man. The meaning of life is made clear by a people who remember every day that there is a future, there is life everlasting, and that we have an immortal soul longing and waiting to be united again with the source of all life. It is the future that gives meaning to life. It is relationships that give meaning to life. It is love given and shared that gives meaning to life, and that will be the legacy we leave behind giving witness to the fact that we know what life is all about.