Please press here to listen to the homily or download
Wednesday – Ninth Week – OT2
Readings: 2 Tm 1:1-3, 6-12; Mk 12:18-27
Reading 1 (2 Tm 1:1-3, 6-12):
Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God
for the promise of life in Christ Jesus,
to Timothy, my dear child:
grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father
and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I am grateful to God,
whom I worship with a clear conscience as my ancestors did,
as I remember you constantly in my prayers, night and day.
For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame
the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control.
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel
with the strength that comes from God.
He saved us and called us to a holy life,
not according to our works
but according to his own design
and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began,
but now made manifest
through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus,
who destroyed death and brought life and immortality
to light through the Gospel,
for which I was appointed preacher and Apostle and teacher.
On this account I am suffering these things;
but I am not ashamed,
for I know him in whom I have believed
and am confident that he is able to guard
what has been entrusted to me until that day.
Gospel (Mk 12:18-27):
Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection,
came to Jesus and put this question to him, 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 and died, leaving no descendants.
So the second brother married her and died, leaving no descendants,
and the third likewise.
And the seven left no descendants.
Last of all the woman also died.
At the resurrection when they arise whose wife will she be?
For all seven had been married to her.”
Jesus said to them, “Are you not misled
because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?
When they rise from the dead,
they neither marry nor are given in marriage,
but they are like the angels in heaven.
As for the dead being raised,
have you not read in the Book of Moses,
in the passage about the bush, how God told him,
I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac,
and the God of Jacob?
He is not God of the dead but of the living.
You are greatly misled.”
Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: The Gospel clearly revealed the eternal life.
Eternal life or the beatific vision is the decisive element for people to live their life in this present world. If people don’t believe in eternal life, they shall find all possible ways to enjoy this present life to the fullness because it is the only life they have. They are afraid of suffering, of loosing what they have, and especially of death because it takes everything away. In opposition, if people believe in eternal life, they shall find all possible ways to reach it even though they must suffer in this life. They shall not concern too much with this present life because they know that they have an eternal life to enjoy with God.
Today readings emphasize on the two questions: whether there is the eternal life and if it exists, how can one attain it. In the first reading, St. Paul reminded Timothy, his beloved disciple, to remember God’s plan of salvation for all and the necessary of preaching the Good News so that people can attain the eternal life. In the Gospel, some Sadducees, who don’t believe in eternal life, relied on Moses’ law to ask Jesus a question. Their purpose is to prove to him that there is no eternal life. Jesus corrected their misunderstanding of Scripture because the Lord isn’t God of the dead but of the living.
1/ Reading I: Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.
1.1/ Understanding of eternal life through generations: Even though the Old Testament mentioned the eternal life, but people didn’t clearly grasp it. Many Jewish people believed that this life is all what they have. If someone keeps God’s law, He shall bless him with blessings such as: a long life, many children and prosperity.
Until 2nd BC, the prophet Daniel was the first author who clearly mentioned the resurrection, the judgment and the eternal life in this passage: “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace. But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever” (Dan 12:2-3).
Another author who also mentioned the resurrection is the author of Second Book of Maccabees. In this book, the author reported a mother and seven brothers of the house of Maccabees who accepted death to keep their ancestral law, because they believed that God shall return both soul and body to them. The mother advised the youngest one with these encouraged words: “I do not know how you came into existence in my womb; it was not I who gave you the breath of life, nor was it I who set in order the elements of which each of you is composed. Therefore, since it is the Creator of the universe who shapes each man’s beginning, as he brings about the origin of everything, he, in his mercy, will give you back both breath and life, because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law” (2 Mac 7:22-23).
At Jesus’ time, he clearly revealed to people that eternal life belongs to God’s plan of salvation, and he is the one who brings eternal life for people through his death and glorious resurrection. This is the core of the Gospel which St. Paul preached to the Gentiles. He reminded Timothy, his disciple, that he must bring this Good New to all people so that they may also attain the eternal life.
1.2/ How people can attain eternal life: The majority of the Jews at Jesus’ time believed that they can attain eternal life by carefully keeping of the law. When Jesus came, he revealed to people that the law has no power to bring out the salvation. In order to receive eternal life, they must believe in him and do what he commands.
St. Paul is a typical example. He believed that he can attain salvation by strictly observing the law until he felt from his horse on the way to Damascus and was blinded. After this event, he clearly taught in his Letters to the Romans and to the Galatians that the condition to inherit salvation is to believe in Christ, not by keeping of the law because no one can perfectly keep the law. He repeated this point in today passage: “He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made manifest through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
2/ Gospel: Jesus revealed about the eternal life.
2.1/ When people rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage: Today passage reported Jesus’ dialogue with the Sadducees. These people don’t believe in resurrection. They belonged to leadership class and were rich; many of them were priests and high priests. These people don’t think they need a next life because they already have everything in this life.
They relied on the law, Deuteronomy 25:5, to prove to Jesus that there is no resurrection, because the wife can’t belong to all seven brothers if there is resurrection. Jesus said to them, “Are you not misled because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God? When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven.” (cf. Lk 20:35-36).
2.2/ He is not God of the dead but of the living: Jesus said to the Sadducees that they don’t correctly understand the Scripture because Scripture mentioned the resurrection. When God promised to Abraham that He shall give him descendants and the promise land, He promised to Abraham, not to his descendants. Abraham must live to see his descendants and to possess the land. If not, how can Abraham know God’s promise is fulfilled? Similarly for God’s promises to Isaac, Jacob and king David.
In today passage, Jesus illustrated God’s words to Moses in the passage about the burning bush: “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?” The verb “to be” is used at the present time to indicate that He is always God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This means that these forefathers must be living. And Jesus concluded: “He is not God of the dead but of the living. You are greatly misled.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We should study Scripture to understand God’s revelation about the eternal life. This faith shall help us to live in a way so we can reach our destiny.
– Eternal life is given out of God’s love for us. We can only reach this eternal life by believing in Christ and by keeping his commandments.
– We shouldn’t describe heaven according to our imagination and interest; but to rely on Scripture to truly know about the eternal life.