1 Maccabees 6:1-13; Luke 20:27-40
Resurrection of the flesh, Luca Signorelli, 1502, Orvieto Cathedral, San Brizio Chapel, Orvieto, Italy
In our first reading, King Antiochus is sick unto death. To honor his gods, he had destroyed the Israelite house of worship in Jerusalen. Now he has seen his mistake and is sick with grief. A belief of that time was one only survived after death in his-her fame and reputation. His army's battle losses were not a claim to fame! His gods couldn't resurrect him or his reputation.
In Luke, Jesus our Teacher, is talking about death and resurrection. Can't you just hear the Sadducees, learned men of the Law of Moses, who didn't believe in Resurrection, trying to trick Jesus? Jesus answers their questions of death by talking about our God as the God of the Living. We will always live, whether we are alive or bodily dead. Do you believe this truth?
We have many moments of death in life: losses of loved ones, of ways of seeing things - perspective, of ways of doing things as our bodies grow into illnesses, of jobs, of relationships, of our dreams, etc. Some of these deaths feel like terrible blows. They knock our socks off for awhile. We grieve, are angry, may feel defeated. With faith, time and good friends, we pick ourselves up and move on in life.
We have other moments that stun us, keep us bound up inside - in webs of addiction, our own or other's. These deaths may be related to alcohol, drugs, gambling, relationships, our work, etc. We may be victims of another's aggression or domestic violence. We may be trapped in our grandious pride or a need to control: "it's my life and I'll fix it!" We may be caught in depression. We are caught in a tornado-wind that envelopes us.
Jesus' message to us: "Live! God loves you!" How do we find God's love in times of death? Is there really a Resurrection and Life?
When we're caught in a tunnel of darkness that feels deadly we can pray hard for grace and light, perhaps to understand our darkness and move into light. Besides praying, we often need help - another's compassionate heart. Listening hearts are often found in a vital christian community, a spiritual director, and/or a good therapist.
Would King Antiochus have been comforted by someone with a compassionate heart? We will never know, will we? Would we be comforted by one who believe in and can walk with us in our search for the Living God? Our God loves us tenderly and is with us in times of sorrow and death as well as moments of lively living.
By Joan Lanahan