Tag Archives: 32 Sunday in Ordinary time

6 November 2016: Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary time

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
2 Mc 7:1-2, 9-14 Ps 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15 2 Thes 2:16-3:5 Lk 20:27-38

 

The end times: promise of resurrection

Green_banner_sm During Ordinary time the Lectionary invites RCIA participants and the believing community to hear and to reflect on Jesus’ stories and teachings from his everyday ministry. As we near the end of the liturgical year, the Sunday readings’ themes become eschatological, focusing on the end times and Jesus’ second coming. This week’s readings invite us to think about the meaning of resurrection–both Jesus’ Easter resurrection and our own resurrections.

The first reading from 2 Maccabees describes the torture of a Jewish family (a widowed mother and her seven sons) by the Syrian king Antiochus IV. The family chooses to follow the covenant laws rather than save their lives. As they face death, the brothers express their belief in a personal resurrection. The Lectionary editors chose this reading to match today’s gospel’s resurrection debate.

The second reading from the second letter to the Thessalonians continues last week’s reading. Last week, the author discussed Jesus’ delayed parousia and urged his hearers not “to be alarmed” by rumors that “the day of the Lord is at hand.” This week the author concludes 2 Thes 2 with a blessing, and opens 2 Thes 3 with a prayer request for his work and for the believing community to grow in faith.

In today’s gospel Jesus spars with the Sadducees over the idea of resurrection. Jesus is now in Jerusalem, teaching in the Temple area. The Sadducees were a conservative Jewish religious faction who accepted only the written Torah as valid Hebrew scripture, rejecting the Prophets and the Writings. They try to turn the Temple crowds against Jesus by presenting an absurd case in which seven brothers in succession marry a childless widow. They then ask Jesus, “If there is a resurrection, to which brother is she married?” They expect Jesus must answer either “All, because they will all be resurrected,” or “None, because there is no resurrection.” Recognizing their trap, Jesus responds by insulting the Sadducees, answering their question, pointing out the limits of their thinking, and asking a question they can’t answer:

  • Jesus’ insult:Humans marry and are given in marriage” (v 34). Jesus states the obvious to insult the Sadducees.
  • Jesus’ answer:Resurrected ones do not marry nor are given in marriage.” (v 35). Jesus answers the Sadducees’ question.
  • The Sadducees’ limited thinking: “Resurrected ones can’t die.” (v 36). Jesus tells the Sadducees that resurrected ones are different because they are deathless. Resurrected life is not a continuation of earthly life, but something new and different.
  • A question from Jesus:Moses revealed at the burning bush that he believed in the resurrection” (v 37). Jesus uses the Sadducees’ own Torah (Ex 3:6) to prove the resurrection. Jesus asks, “If Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are dead, how could God be the God of the living?”

Today’s readings ask RCIA participants and the believing community to think about the meaning of resurrection. Jesus’ final point–that God is a God of the living, not the dead–puts the emphasis on God’s relationship with those God loves. That relationship transcends human death. Jesus’ Easter resurrection foreshadows and promises our own resurrections. Do we believe God’s love surpasses death? Do we live that relationship?

—Terence Sherlock

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8 November 2015: Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary time

 Reading 1  Response  Reading 2  Gospel
 1 Kgs 17:10-16  Ps 146:7, 8-9, 9-10  Heb 9:24-28  Mk 12:38-44

Scribes and widows: what God sees

After last week’s celebration of All Saints, we return to Ordinary time. The Lectionary presents RCIA participants and the believing community with teachings from Jesus’ ministry. This week Jesus instructs his disciples about the difference between what humans see and what God sees.

The first reading from the Book of Kings is the story of Elijah and the widow. God has sent Elijah to the town of Zarephath. There he asks for food from the widow at the city gate. The widow has only enough flour and oil to make one last meal. Still Elijah asks for her food, promising “the jar of flour will not go empty; the oil jug will not run dry.” The widow feeds Elijah, and miraculously is able to feed her son and herself for a year from the jar and jug. The Lectionary editors chose this reading because of the widow’s generosity and her faith that God would provide.

The second reading continues the letter to the Hebrews. The author contrasts Jesus’ sacrificial ministry with the high priest’s ministry. The high priest enters a “sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one.” In Exodus, God instructs Moses to build a sanctuary (the Tent of Meeting). This earthly sanctuary is a copy of God’s heavenly temple. The high priest enters an earthly sanctuary, but Jesus enters the heavenly sanctuary to intercede with God for humans. The high priest enters every year (“many times”), but Jesus enters only once (“at the end of the ages”) to take away sin. Humans die, but Jesus will return to bring salvation.

In Mark’s gospel, Jesus has arrived in Jerusalem and continues teaching. Responding to the scribes’ hostile questions, Jesus denounces their behavior and praises true religious action:

  • The scribes’ outward show of piety: The scribes, Torah experts, showed off their social standing by their dress (“long robes”), reserved seating in the synagogue, and head-table seating at social events. Because the Torah forbade taking payment for rabbinical teaching, some scribes developed questionable ways to make a living–charging legal fees, managing estates (“devouring the houses of widows”), or simply sponging off benefactors. Their self-aggrandizement at others’ expense will bring them “severe judgement.” Jesus condemns these scribes’ behavior.
  • The widow’s true piety: The temple had thirteen offering boxes, each topped with a brass trumpet-shaped collector. Large silver coins made a loud sound when they hit the brass funnel–this is how Jesus knew that “the rich were throwing in many coins.” The widow, who in Jewish society had no inheritance or income, gives two small, light, brass coins worth together less than one cent. Jesus notes that while others give from their abundance, the widow gives everything she has (“her whole life”). Like Elijah’s widow in the first reading, she relies on God to provide; Jesus praises her faith.

This week’s readings invite RCIA participants and the believing community to consider why and how we express piety. Are we all about show, using good works to gain praise and respect from others? Or are we concerned only that our inconspicuous generosity benefits others? What judgement will our behavior bring?

—Terence Sherlock

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