Homily for 32nd Sunday in Ordinary time year C 2013
Last month some parts of the Philippines had been hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. It caused damages in homes,centuries-old churches and other infrastructures. And just the other day, these same people more or less had to face another blow. The strongest typhoon in the planet to hit landfall this year occurred. It’s just like adding salt to a fresh wound. It worried me because my family is in there. I have been trying to contact them since Thursday. I couldn’t reach them. Last night I got in contact with my sister very briefly before the communication was cut off again. She told me they’re alright, much to my relief. But I’m still worried about my other sister, she’s living right in the coast. I have tried to ring her but no response. The typhoon has passed now and heading to other parts of South East Asia, but the devastation it left was massive and heartbreaking. It always broke my heart to see the suffering of my fellow Filipinos. The footage of the devastation, the debris everywhere, is just heartbreaking to see. It broke my heart because, I know, for many of those affected, their houses are gone, their only place of refuge, and many of those are not insured either, so in times like this, they had to start from scratch again. For many of these people they lost everything, houses, farms, their crops, and other means of living. Another thing that got me was the image of death. One scene there was this father pulling out the dead body of his son from under the rubble. It was really a heartbreaking scene.
It breaks my heart to see people dying in such a terrible way. It breaks my heart to see people lost everything they’re working for over the years. Do you know what consoles me this time?
My Faith in the resurrection and my hope for eternal life.
I thank God for giving me hope, I thank God for giving me faith in the resurrection. If there’s no hope for resurrection, I don’t know how to take this reality of death and devastation happening now in my beloved country.
This faith and hope are our consolation and source of comfort as we continue ‘walking in the shadow of death’. We can be assured of this faith and this hope because of Christ who had not only told us about this, but really showed us this in his life, death and resurrection. Jesus has died as we always proclaim in the Profession of Faith every Sunday in the Liturgy, but HE didn’t end up in death. He died but he defeated its power by rising from the dead. And this is one of the messages he likes to tell us in the gospel today. He is telling us that there is more to death than just being the end of our life. He shows us that there is more to life than our life here now, that there is life after death, that there is resurrection after our death.
Thus, we need to develop in us the gift of faith in the resurrection. It is very important for us to realize how powerful belief in the resurrection is and how important it is to have faith in the resurrection.
How important the faith in the resurrection is for us?
First, it is power for us. It is an engine if you like that keeps us going. The beauty of this power is not that we can be arrogant and be proud of who we are or what we have achieved, but rather it makes us humble yet strong even in the face of adversity, or defeat or even in imminent death. The story of the seven brothers and their mother in the Book of Maccabees that we heard today is a good point to reflect on, for us to understand faith in the resurrection as a power. We heard that the brothers were tortured because they wouldn’t give in to whims of the King to deny and to disrespect their religion and their faith. Because of their faith and hope in the resurrection, they were able to stand up courageously and played indifferent to the sufferings inflicted on them. Such was the power of their faith that one of them could even dare to speak before the King: ‘Ours is the better choice, to meet death at men’s hands, yet relying on God’s promise that we shall be raised up by him…’ Faith in the resurrection makes us humble to accept that not everything we want here on earth is going to happen on our favour. This faith also keeps us going as we journey through this life.
Second, it is source of our hope. It gives meaning to our lives, to our endeavours, to our experiences especially in times of despair, sorrow and disappointments in life. ‘Without the hope of an afterlife,’ Otto von Bismarck once said, ‘this life is not even worth the effort of getting dressed in the morning.’ As Jesus showed us in the gospel, belief in the resurrection opens our eyes to see that there is more to life in ‘the age to come’ than ‘in this age.’ In here, he was answering to the question of the ‘fundamentalists’ in the Jewish religion- the Sadducees, who tried to make the idea of resurrection appear ridiculous. They’ve used a hypothetical scenario of a woman who’s married to 7 brothers one after another. The Sadducees used the Law of Moses to put their point forward but Jesus could see their purpose. They were there not to learn or to understand but to disprove him, or discredit him. To answer them, Jesus told the Sadducees that in the resurrection, there is a newness of life, a new beginning, a life beyond the life that we know of, a life that is not just an extension of our human experience but a fulfilment of all that we aspire and long for, a perfection of our humanity. We just need to live in this hope while we’re still in this life.
Third, it ensures us to have a share in the life of Christ. ‘Through him, the children of the light rise to eternal life and the halls of the heavenly kingdom are thrown open to the faithful; for his death is our ransom from death, and in his rising the life of all has risen.” (Preface II of Easter). Furthermore, it not only enables us to share in the life of Christ in the future but it allows us to enjoy the company with the resurrected Christ right here and now. Sharing in the life of Christ also means listening to him speaking to us through our real human experiences as he did to his disciples on the road to Emmaus. It also means recognizing him in the breaking of the Bread (Eucharist) as he is present in us, in the Word we heard, in the Food we shared and in the Minister.
The resurrection therefore is the light at the end of the tunnel for us. Faith in the resurrection assures us of immortality. However we have the responsibility to live it out as a people of the living God here and now, in our own lives and in our own particular vocations. We are to live it out working for the fulfilment of our hope of that life with God where there are no more disasters, no more sufferings, and no more trials.
So as we continue our celebration of the Eucharist, let us renew our faith in the resurrection. What are we doing to be assured by it in the end?