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Saturday – Thirty-third week – OT1
Reading 1: As King Antiochus was traversing the inland provinces,
he heard that in Persia there was a city called Elymais,
famous for its wealth in silver and gold,
and that its temple was very rich,
containing gold helmets, breastplates, and weapons
left there by Alexander, son of Philip,
king of Macedon, the first king of the Greeks.
He went therefore and tried to capture and pillage the city.
But he could not do so,
because his plan became known to the people of the city who rose up in battle against him.
So he retreated and in great dismay withdrew from there to return to Babylon.
While he was in Persia, a messenger brought him news that the armies sent into the land of Judah had been put to flight;
that Lysias had gone at first with a strong army
and been driven back by the children of Israel;
that they had grown strong
by reason of the arms, men, and abundant possessions taken from the armies they had destroyed;
that they had pulled down the Abomination
which he had built upon the altar in Jerusalem;
and that they had surrounded with high walls
both the sanctuary, as it had been before,
and his city of Beth-zur.
When the king heard this news,
he was struck with fear and very much shaken.
Sick with grief because his designs had failed, he took to his bed.
There he remained many days, overwhelmed with sorrow, for he knew he was going to die.
So he called in all his Friends and said to them:
“Sleep has departed from my eyes,
for my heart is sinking with anxiety.
I said to myself: “Into what tribulation have I come,
and in what floods of sorrow am I now!
Yet I was kindly and beloved in my rule.”
But I now recall the evils I did in Jerusalem,
when I carried away all the vessels of gold and silver
that were in it, and for no cause
gave orders that the inhabitants of Judah be destroyed.
I know that this is why these evils have overtaken me;
and now I am dying, in bitter grief, in a foreign land.”
Gospel: Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection,
came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying,
“Teacher, Moses wrote for us,
If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child,
his brother must take the wife
and raise up descendants for his brother.
Now there were seven brothers;
the first married a woman but died childless.
Then the second and the third married her,
and likewise all the seven died childless.
Finally the woman also died.
Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?
For all seven had been married to her.”
Jesus said to them,
“The children of this age marry and remarry;
but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead
neither marry nor are given in marriage.
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.
That the dead will rise
even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called “Lord, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;
and he is not God of the dead, but of the living,
for to him all are alive.”
Some of the scribes said in reply,
“Teacher, you have answered well.”
And they no longer dared to ask him anything.
I. THEME: The resurrection and the eternal life
The questions: “Are there resurrection and the eternal life?” are the most important questions in life; because their answers will lead people how to live their life in this world. If a person believe in resurrection and eternal life, he will know how to live this life in order to prepare for the eternal life to come. If a person doesn’t believe in resurrection and the eternal life, he will concentrate all his efforts on this present life, how he can be happy and enjoy it to the fullest, without concerning with rewards or punishments in the life to come.
Though the belief in the resurrection was mentioned in the Old Testament, but it was not clearly explained. According to the Jewish tradition in the Old Testament, happiness is only in this world and based on: to live a longer life, to have many children, and to enjoy many blessings from God. The concept of the immortality of the soul was clearly mentioned in the Book of Wisdom (about 100 BC), and the resurrection was clearly mentioned in the Booh of I and II Maccabees (about 150 BC). With Christ’s Incarnation, he clearly revealed the resurrection, the eternal life, and God’s plan of salvation in all the Gospels.
Today readings concentrate on the finding of the answer for these important questions. In the first reading, king Antiochus regretted about all the wicked he had done to the Jews. During the last part of his life on earth, the king must endure failure upon failure, sickness, and death. In the Gospel, the Sadducees wanted to show Jesus there is no resurrection nor the eternal life by raising up a hypothetical story. Jesus answered them about the resurrection and corrected their faith.
1/ Reading I: “I know that it is because of this that these evils have come upon me.”
1.1/ Antiochus’ continuing failures:
(1) His unlimited greed: The greedy are never satisfied with what they are having, they always want to have more. When people are victorious, they think they can do all things, and no one can prevent them of their determination. In today passage, when Antiochus “heard that Elymais in Persia was a city famed for its wealth in silver and gold. Its temple was very rich, containing golden shields, breastplates, and weapons left there by Alexander, the son of Philip, the Macedonian king who first reigned over the Greeks. So he came and tried to take the city and plunder it, but he could not, because his plan became known to the men of the city and they withstood him in battle. So he fled and in great grief departed from there to return to Babylon.”
(2) His failure in governing Judah’s kingdom: Antiochus’ wicked governing of Judah couldn’t be lasted because God “has his eyes.” Moreover, when people were pushed against the wall, they will react to protect their life. When Antiochus was in Persia, some one came to him and reported that “the armies which had gone into the land of Judah had been routed; that Lysias had gone first with a strong force, but had turned and fled before the Jews; that the Jews had grown strong from the arms, supplies, and abundant spoils which they had taken from the armies they had cut down; that they had torn down the abomination which he had erected upon the altar in Jerusalem; and that they had surrounded the sanctuary with high walls as before, and also Bethzur, his city. When the king heard this news, he was astounded and badly shaken. He took to his bed and became sick from grief, because things had not turned out for him as he had planned.”
1.2/ Whoever sows wind will harvest storm: When facing failure, sickness and death, people will think about all the wicked they had done. King Antiochus recognized all the things he illegally hoarded, didn’t bring happiness for him. The blood of the innocent poured out because of his absurd ambition, now came back to haunt him day and night. King Antiochus recognized the relationship between the sickness he was enduring with the wicked he had done. He confessed this to his friends, “I know that it is because of this that these evils have come upon me; and behold, I am perishing of deep grief in a strange land.”
Antiochus’ thinking must be a lesson for all absurd people who refused to obey God’s laws. They must know the most basic natural and moral law is that they must “do good and avoid evil.” According to the cause and effect principle, people must get results according to what they have done in this world. If they did good, they will be reward for them; but if they did wicked, they will be punished correpondently. Most of the popular religions in the world believe in this moral principle even though they are different in faith.
2/ Gospel: Is there the resurrection?
2.1/ The difficult question of the Sadducees is used to demonstrate there is no resurrection: This group believes only in Moses’ laws and not in the resurrection. This is the reason they came to Jesus and presented their question: “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the wife and raise up children for his brother (Deut 25:5). Now there were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and died without children; and the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.” Their question though is based on the law, but not happened in life.
2.2/ Jesus’ answer: He separated out their two questions: the relationship between husband and wife and the resurrection. He also corrected their faith.
(1) The relationship between husband and wife: Jesus said: “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.” To get marry is only happened in this world, all are brothers and sisters in the life to come. People have no need to get marry in the heaven as the Muslims believe.
(2) The resurrection and the eternal life: “For they cannot die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”
(3) Jesus used their law to correct their faith: “But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush (Exo 3:1-6), where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him.” If the Sadducees believed “God is the Lord of the living,” they must believe their forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are still living. In other words, they must believe in the resurrection.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We must be responsible to all of our actions when we live in this world; therefore, we must act according to God’s and natural law.
– The base of our faith in the resurrection is Jesus. We must let this faith to nourish and to enlighten us in all our works. We must live this life to be worthy of the eternal life.