Reflections on the Readings
Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - November 7, 2010 - Year C
Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
By Dennis S. Hankins
Life and Love in the Age to Come
"But those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage."
Through baptism we have tasted of the powers of the age to come. At our baptism the minister or priest invoked the Holy Trinity. At the moment of our baptism, the Holy Spirit introduced our soul to divine life and love. And the love of God in us gives praise to the God of love above us as we walk in this life the path to union with God forever.
Every new follower of Jesus Christ thinks about heaven. Even while living a totally human experience of Christian life and love, heaven is on our mind. It's on our mind because this world is not our final home. There is much beauty in this world. God is the creator of everything good in creation including the fading rays of an indescribable sunset on a crisp fall evening in October. But Christian faith and hope is inspired by a love that is greater than this life; it beckons us to a joy that is beyond human words and beyond this age, to a place where there is no need of the sun.
In his mercy, God does not allow this life to continue ad infinitum. He does, however, give us joy in the journey, teaching us that there is an existence, an age where there is no more sorrow and no more tears. Beyond this veil of trials and temptations there is a place where love is the unfading light of our life.
I have a dear friend who experienced what we now call a near death experience. He was in a serious car accident several years ago. Leaving his body, he felt himself drawn toward an incredible light. My friend said that around him was darkness, but before him was an indescribable light. Tom, (not his real name) told this story to me and a friend at dinner one evening, but he was not emotionally equipped to explain the penetrating light of love he felt absorbing his being. Since that experience many years ago, Tom has not only the memory of that experience, but also a joyful anticipation of its fulfillment at his death.
The Sadducees did not possess this kind of hope. The resurrection seemed impossible to them. They posed the problem of a wife who shared life and love with seven consecutive husbands. In the resurrection, which husband would she belong to? Although Jesus tells the Sadducees that marriage is only for this age, he upheld the sacrament and sanctity of marriage in his teaching. Jesus taught that marriage between a man and a woman was instituted for the human family from the beginning of time. Even at a marriage feast in Cana, when the wine was running out, Jesus embraced the joy and happiness of marriage by turning the water into wine. And the writer to the Hebrews admonishes us to let marriage be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed be undefiled.
We can certainly see the vital importance and necessity of Holy Matrimony in this life. In marriage a husband and wife know each other. It's a lifetime of mutually holding each other's heart. Obviously this is not exactly the same meaning when we say, "I know so and so." Marriage is about belonging exclusively to each other, not as property, but as heirs together of the grace of life; welcoming the new life such love creates. This high view of marriage is necessary lest our prayers for each other and for our world become powerless. So from the beginning, marriage was a lifelong commitment to each other's completeness and holiness; till death do us part.
For sure there is a genuine experience of completeness and wholeness in the gift of marriage. But as sons and daughters of the resurrection, our need for completeness of self will come in the gift of God himself: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We will be complete, not from drives and desires, but rather from a boundless energy of love emanating from God who is love. Such unblemished purity of acceptance is inebriating. The Apostle of Love himself felt this intoxication exclaiming, "Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as is is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure."
Every morning we wake up to an array of imperfections and impurity we see in ourselves and in our world. Perfect love does not rule; there are wars within and without. Bloodshed and absurd violence is headline news. Hatred and distrust of each other fills homes, communities and nations. But if we can let it, love's pure light can shine in our hearts now, and in every dark corner of this world. Such love casts out fear and restores trust in God and each other.
Let us seek to live in the power of this life and love of the age to come so that our families and friends can see our good works and glorify God with us!
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to his uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org His website is: www.dennishankins.com