The “afterlife” is an interesting topic. Bring it up with enough people and you will get responses ranging from reincarnation to rapture and everything in between, including nothing at all. What do you believe? This was the subject of the past Sunday’s readings.
Maccabee Martyrs. In the first reading, seven brothers and their mother were brutally tortured and executed for refusing to renounce their faith, encouraging one another and praising God all the way. What empowered them to do this? “The King of the world will raise us up to live again forever” (2 Maccabees 7:9). Their conviction that God had prepared a place for them was absolutely certain. How many of us can say that? Hopefully, none of us will ever be asked to die for Jesus. However, in many parts of the world, Christians still risk their lives to go to Mass. Let’s not forget to pray for the souls of our 58 Iraqi Catholic brothers and sisters who were recently killed by Muslim extremists while celebrating Mass at Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad.
Now You’re Cookin’. Consider the legend of St. Lawrence who lived a life of radical holiness. When Roman authorities demanded that he present the “treasure of the Church” for taxation, he instead brought them a crowd of blind, lame, maimed, leprous, orphaned, and widowed persons. For this, St. Lawrence was essentially grilled to death over a bed of hot coals, but not before joyfully exclaiming, “It is well done. Turn me over!” Martyrs find the strength to willingly, heroically, sometimes joyfully die for Jesus because they live for Him. In the second reading, St. Paul explained what it means to keep Christ at the center of your life.
You’re Ridiculous. Over and over again, Jesus’s accusers played word games with Him to try to trap him in some false teaching; it never worked. But in the gospel reading, along came the Sadducees who tried to challenge His teaching on the resurrection by following it logically to a ridiculous consequence. Jesus essentially rebuked their lack of faith and explained that supernatural realities cannot be explained purely by natural reason but must be further illuminated by the light of faith. Reason and intellect are gifts from God, but to divorce them from faith is essentially to re-commit Original Sin, eating from the “tree of knowledge” rather than trusting God. How much do you really trust God with your salvation?
Catholicism 101. Faith and hope, which along with charity compose the three theological virtues, are often confused. Faith is the certain belief in God and that He is truth itself, which compels us to live our lives as witnesses to His goodness, kindness, and mercy. Hope is the desire for the eternal life in heaven as our happiness, which orients our lives toward that end. Read more about the theological virtues in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.