Saturday, Week Thirty-Three
The Responsorial (Psalm 9) calls us to remember God’s “wondrous deeds”: “I will rejoice in your
salvation, O Lord.”
1Maccabees 6:1-13: The whole point of the reading is whether we will, in fact, “rejoice in your salvation, O Lord” when we die. King Antiochus didn’t. His bad treatment of the Jews came back to haunt him. “I am dying in bitter grief,” he said, in “a foreign land.”
We Christians all die in “a foreign land.” But we rejoice in it. We know that “here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.” Our “citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” At death we go home, to our Father’s house, where Jesus said, “there are many dwelling places...”
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also (Hebrews 13:14; Philippians 3:20; John 14:1)
Antiochus came into his “moment of truth” through culminating defeats on the battlefield. “He was struck with fear and sick with grief because his designs had failed... He was overwhelmed with sorrow. He knew he was going to die.”
This can’t happen to us. First, we know our victory is already won. The presider proclaims it as he holds up the body and blood of Christ before Communion: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world.” Christ has overcome sin and death.
Second, when we die, death just brings us into the victory celebration: “Blessed are those called to the [marriage] supper of the Lamb.” Whether success or failure appears visibly in our lives, we say equally, “I will rejoice in your salvation, O Lord.”
We need to remember that the Rite of Communion is also a victory feast. We celebrate in anticipation Christ’s return for the “marriage feast of the Lamb.” We don’t just “await the blessed hope, the appearing in glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” We celebrate his victory as an accomplished fact, not as a hopeful prediction. Christ already reigns in heaven. We work with unshakable confidence as “stewards of his kingship” to extend and establish his reign on earth until he returns.
Luke 20:27-40 teaches us not to be caught and confined in our own narrow, human way of thinking. The way things are on this earth is not the only form reality can take. To the skeptics who were scoffing at the resurrection because a woman who had had seven successive husbands would not know whose wife to be, Jesus just said, “You don’t know what you are talking about.” Literally. They had no clue what life after death is really like. They thought it was just a prolongation of life as we know it here. Jesus says: “Wrong...!” Life in heaven, eternal life, does not conform to the same rules of space and time that life on earth does. “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1Corinthians 2:9).
Action: Live love in joy and peace. There is no reason not to.