“For you there can be no resurrection”, brothers being martyred say to the cruel pagan king. In the same way Christ points out in the Gospel, that God is lord of the living not the dead. Lets confess ways we fail to appreciate the importance of this.
Light is precious this time of the year when days are short and dark. Hence the Christmas lights. We celebrate delivery from darkness by Christ’s birth. Even our pagan ancestors knew we needed such light. At Newgrange on the 21st of December they’d a system rigged up so that light came in and flooded the graves of their dead. It was a sign of hope for those lost in death. Given the winter weather, clocks going back and dark days, we too need this larger hope. That’s why the church at the end of her year both asks us to reflect on the end things, death, the end of the world, judgment. But she also tells us not to despair. Christ delivered us from darkness; He’s lord of the living not the dead.
For like a child is the dark we can all be afraid, sensing the link between darkness and evil. Certainly, none of us wants to live in darkness forever. That’s also why we have two great feasts at this time; All Saints and All Souls. We’re asked to imitate those who kept the faith and reached heaven. We also remember those who still need our prayers to come to the light.
The Gospel gives us infinite hope in this context; in God all are in fact alive. All we need do to avoid the fate of eternal darkness is to faithfully walk in the Savior’s light. That’s what Christ tried to tell the Pharisees. But they were too concerned with power and greed to accept the life he offered. The stupid story of the man marrying seven wives proves this. Christ tells them that at the resurrection we’ll be like angels worldly vanity left behind. But first we must follow his light here below. For at any times we too in hardness of heart are tempted to reject Jesus. And that’s more probable now, when pagan forces today would lure us back into the darkness from which Christ freed us.
We all lit a candle of faith from the Pascal Candle at baptism and promised to keep that flame of faith alive in our hearts until we went to meet the Lord with all the saints. But we’re tempted on every side today to renege on those promises, to go asleep spiritually. In the bustle of money-making and worldly care the light of faith lit at baptism can flicker and go out.
Don’t let that happen! Deluded by worldly propaganda lets not lapse back into the hopeless darkness that reigned before Christ. Lets not make unbelief and immorality our gods instead. For in the unredeemed world, as Paul says, people glory in their shame. They try to persuade the elect that blacks white is white and white is black. Lets not be fooled by the father of lies but cling to God until, in his light, our souls flower into eternity.
Lets be like the brothers in the first reading. They defied the pagan king even unto death. Similarly, new pagan powers-that-be may pressure us into abandoning God. Powerful forces such as the media can be harbingers of spiritual death. The brothers said to the pagan king: “for you there will be no resurrection, no new life”. It would be awful if, having neglected our faith, Christ should say the same to us at death. For people can die within as well as physically. Theologians now say that hell isn’t God punishing us but people’s refusal to accept God after a life of doing so. He can’t force us into heaven. Its vital for salvation that we constantly renew the commitment to Christ we made at baptism confirmation. For this world’s godless values pass and leave us empty within at last, but Christ is lord of life, light, glory and salvation for this world and forever and ever, amen.
As God’s own, living in his light all life long and so being part of the saintly throng when he comes again, we profess our faith..
Prayers of the Faithful
And as the lights of the world lets pray for what we need..
For the church throughout the world and its leaders that it may be the light of Christ to all willing to receive his grace..
For civil leaders that they may be enlightened enough to support the various faiths of their people and our main tradition..
For our youth that they may walk always in the light of Christ as practicing members of his light-filled holy church..
For parents and homes, the domestic church, that they may be places where the faith is passed on intact, for the good of all.
For the sick that they may find in faith, prayer and our help the consolation, strength and healing that they need..
For the dead that our powerful communal prayers here may light them home to their heavenly home..
And we ask all these prayers through Christ who is forever the light of the world, amen.
I believe that we will find in the next world only what we believe in here. An experience of my own seems to bear this out. I talked to a woman who had gone through a near-death experience and come back to life. “There I was” she said, “bathed in wonderful light and the Sacred Heart was coming towards me with open arms. I was so happy, and then they brought me back”. A life-long devotee of the sacred heart, she was deeply disappointed to be brought back. God came to receive her in the form she knew and loved. Our resurrection will be glorious and a source of greater joy that we could ever experience in this world. Lets ask Mary to keep us on that glorious road..Hail Mary