Occasionally, Fr Ronan Drury (Editor of “The Furrow”) asks me to contribute homily material for the publication. Most recently he asked me to submit some homilies for the month of November. This is the homily for 32nd Sunday of The Year
I’ve always had a feeling of pity for the youngest brother!! I’m sure emigration must have crossed his mind!
It seems to me that today’s passage has less to do with the story of the seven brothers and more to do with our understanding of resurrection. A clear divide existed then, as it does today, between those who believe in life beyond the grave and those who don’t. Even for those who believe, there can be a varying understanding of what form it will take. Will it be life as we know it now or a totally different existence?
This is something I’ve wondered about, not least since my parents died. Like all my family, and indeed the families of all who have died where there is a belief in resurrection, Heaven and a “new day”, I hope to one day see my parents again. That said, I have wondered what it will be like. My mother, in particular, had a number of difficult years before her death, with her mobility and alertness of mind profoundly affected. If I am to see her again, is that the woman I see? I’d prefer to think of her in the full flush of youth, energy, love and fullness of life that her earlier years must have afforded her. Truth told, I didn’t really know her then. She was always my mother – older and wiser than me – and I’m not sure what version of her the afterlife might present. The one freshest in my mind is the mother I knew nearing her end, the mother I attended on the day she died but that’s not the image I want to hold on to. Likewise my father, and many who have died, changed over the years and age had its way with their looks, health and energy. What version of them does the “resurrection of the body” present? It’s a real question. At the end of the day, like much of the journey we walk in this life, the answer is beyond us. We rely, and continually so, on faith.
Jesus, in replying to the cynically charged question of the Saduccess, seeks to answer us too. He is saying that there is resurrection. We need have no doubt about that. He quotes the “burning bush” story and the recognition, in that moment, of famous giants of our past, still present and involved in all that was happening.
Could it be that we arrive at a sense of peace in the belief that there will be recognition for us? Maybe, like Mary Magdalene on that Sunday morning, resurrection will be revealed not in a face we instantly recognise but in the intonation of a name. That intonation, that intimacy of relationship will, I believe, answer our questions, unwrap the hidden mysteries of our faith and bring us “home” to the eternal truth that those we love, those we miss, continue to know us and whisper our names – to call out to us, “not to cling to them” but to have certainty that they are “caught up” in God and that we will be together again.
At day’s end, there are questions asked today whose answers are found and will only be truly answered in eternity.
It is perfectly acceptable to ask questions and to ponder these important issues. The hope for us is that we’re starting our questioning from a place where the line of the Creed is found:
“I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and life of the world to come. Amen”