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
It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested
and tortured with whips and scourges by the king,
to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law.
One of the brothers, speaking for the others, said:
“What do you expect to achieve by questioning us?
We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.”
At the point of death he said:
“You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life,
but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.
It is for his laws that we are dying.”
After him the third suffered their cruel sport.
He put out his tongue at once when told to do so,
and bravely held out his hands, as he spoke these noble words:
“It was from Heaven that I received these;
for the sake of his laws I disdain them;
from him I hope to receive them again.”
Even the king and his attendants marveled at the young man’s courage,
because he regarded his sufferings as nothing.
After he had died,
they tortured and maltreated the fourth brother in the same way.
When he was near death, he said,
“It is my choice to die at the hands of men
with the hope God gives of being raised up by him;
but for you, there will be no resurrection to life.”
- 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 they had given in on that, they would have given in on everything.
- In raising the innocent from the dead, God gives them the justice they never got on earth.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.
My steps have been steadfast in your paths,
my feet have not faltered.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
Keep me as the apple of your eye,
hide me in the shadow of your wings.
But 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 friends expect 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
Brothers and sisters:
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement
and good hope through his grace,
encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed
Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us,
so that the word of the Lord may speed forward and be glorified,
as it did among you,
and that we may be delivered from perverse and wicked people,
for not all have faith.
But the Lord is faithful;
he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.
We are confident of you in the Lord that what we instruct you,
you are doing and will continue to do.
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God
and to the endurance of Christ.
- As the martyred sons in Maccabees knew, St. Paul points out that not all men have faith, and these men may treat us very badly. That is as true today as in the past. It may be more true tomorrow than it is today.
- 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 for him.
Gospel Lk 20:27-38
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.”
- The Sadducees did not believe in life after death, so they came up with a loaded question based on one of Moses’ commands. They assumed their question required an answer that would make the idea of eternal life look ridiculous.
- But Christ tells them that “even Moses” taught that the dead will rise: 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” (1023). Pope Benedict XII (d. 1342) defined this condition 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 using the method of lectio divina with doctrinal points as the “text” of what is read.
- First read what the Church says, for example, in the section of the Catechism cited above. Then use you mind to think 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.
The Homiletic Directory recommends these catechism points and themes for the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time:
- CCC 992-996: the progressive revelation of resurrection
- CCC 997-1004: our resurrection in Christ
- CCC 1023-1029: heaven
- CCC 1030-1032: purgatory, the final purification