Central Idea: The reward of eternal life. Doctrine: The Beatific Vision. Practical Application: Meditation on the Beatific Vision.
For Lectionary 156, click here.
Central Idea: The reward of eternal life
Reading 1 2 Mc 7:1-2, 9-14
- The Sacred Writer of 2 Maccabees clearly teaches the hope of a bodily life after death. Those who obey God’s will, come what may, will enjoy being raised from the dead. But for sinners, “there will be no resurrection to life.”
- It might seem eating pork was a small thing to die for, but the Mosaic Law forbade it, and if the brothers and mother had given in on that, they would have given in on everything.
- God must raise the innocent from the dead to give them the justice they never got on earth.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15
I in justice shall behold your face; on waking I shall be content in your presence.
- In this life, it is a special joy to know you are a friend of God.
- How do God’s friends behave? They pray. They tell the truth. They persevere in doing God’s will.
- What do God’s friends expect from God? God’s justice: That he will do as he has promised. That he will hear their prayers. That he will love and protect them. That he will show himself to them. That he will raise them from the dead: “I in justice shall behold your face;
on waking I shall be content in your presence.”
Reading 2 2 Thes 2:16-3:5
- As the martyred sons in Maccabees knew, St. Paul points out that not all men have faith, and may treat us very badly. That is as true today as ever.
- Nevertheless, with God’s real help, his grace, we are to continue “in every good deed and word.”
- God gives us encouragement, endurance, strength, protection, and love of God.
Gospel Lk 20:27-38
- The Sadducees did not believe in life after death. To make the idea of eternal life look ridiculous, so they came up with a loaded question based on one of Moses’ commands.
- Christ tells them that “even Moses” taught that the dead will rise because God is not “God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
- Moses taught eternal life; do did David in the Psalms; so did the Book of Maccabees; so does Christ, which is why Paul does also.
Doctrine: The Beatific Vision
- Heaven or eternal life is more than a state of never-ending perfect natural happiness in which we will be united with everyone who is good under the loving care of God.
- As the Catechism puts it, summing up Sacred Scripture, “Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they ‘see him as he is,’ face to face” (CCC 1023). As Pope Benedict XII (d. 1342) defined it further, these souls “see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature” (CCC 1023).
- The Church calls this ultimate gift the Beatific Vision. “Because of his transcendence, God cannot be seen as he is, unless he himself opens up his mystery to man’s immediate contemplation and gives him the capacity for it” (CCC 1028).
Practical Application: Meditation on the Beatific Vision
- Perhaps the most important thing we can “do” about the Beatific Vision now is to meditate on it and to contemplate it. We can use the method of lectio divina with these doctrinal points as the “text” to be read.
- First read what the Church says, for example, in the section of the Catechism cited above. Then try to understand it by thinking about what it means. Then talk to God about it. Finally, simply dwell with God, experiencing whatever he wants you to think or feel.
- Don’t be surprised if your meditation becomes perplexing because you are trying, with God’s help, to go to the limit of human thought and understanding.