32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Simham)
Is your faith ridiculous
In today’s gospel we come across a situation which is familiar to us in our present world where our faith is questioned and our beliefs are ridiculed at. In the name of pseudo-secularism the world is moving farther and farther away from God and consequently from truth and goodness. Anyone who stands for morals, goodness and beliefs is considered as insane and ridiculous.
Is it not true that many today question our belief in the Creator? Is it not true that people no longer believe in a life after death and a judgement about this life? Anyone who believes in these things is ‘the butt of the jokes’ for many. They make every effort to put him/her down. This is what is happening in today’s world and this is what happened in Jesus’ time too.
Jesus went around preaching about the resurrection of the dead. He raised Lazarus from the dead as a proof of resurrection of the dead. And he declared on that occasion and said “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” And he was also often predicting about his own death and resurrection on the third day.
But the Sadducees who did not believe in resurrection could not accept all these. And so they come out with a funny story to ridicule the belief in resurrection and the afterlife. This is the story. There is a Mosaic Law which says that a man should marry his brother’s wife if his brother died childless. Based on that they make up a story and say that a woman married seven brothers in accordance with the law before she herself died. Now, when she rises again, whose wife she will be? Their intention clearly was that they want to ridicule the whole idea about resurrection. So they came up with this ridiculous story of a ridiculous situation.
But Jesus responds to them saying indirectly, what is ridiculous is not the law or the situation, but their own attempt to put spiritual realities into human concepts. What is ridiculous is their weird attempt to connect heavenly realities with the realities of this world. The afterlife is not about marriage, relationships, and procreation. The afterlife is angelic life, not a life of wants and desires. And pointing to their wrong understanding of God, he says, Our God is the God of the living not of the dead. He created us to live not to perish. When you call him God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob, are you saying that these your elders who mean so much for you; they are dead and gone or are you saying that they are living? God did not create you and me in vain, but he created you and me to be living, living for ever.
These beliefs what Jesus taught and what we hold are unacceptable to many even today. They in turn make every effort to ridicule our beliefs. If it is so how are we going to react to that? Are we able to stand up and say like Jesus in the Gospel and the seven brothers in the Maccabees who said, “This is our belief! And we are ready die for it. And the king of this world will raise us up.” Do we have the courage to say that? No! I am afraid. No. We are filled with a kind of fear. What is this fear? Our fear is not that we will be tortured or killed. But our great fear is that we won’t fit in, that people won’t accept us, that people won’t like us because of our faith. Hence we are afraid to talk about it.
But we need to remember we are Christians, the followers of Christ. We are the followers of the way shown by Christ. We have chosen to be holy. Holiness means to be set aside, separate for God. We have chosen to be different from those elements of our society that exalts in what is basically a pagan lifestyle where everything is ok. These people can’t stand our holiness. Evil will always attack the Good. In fact, when we are attacked for what we believe or how we live our Christianity, then we know that we are doing something very right: we are giving witness to the Kingdom. But we are afraid. We are afraid that we are not fitting in.
But what we need to ask ourselves today this is fundamental question. Where we want to fit in? Whether we want to fit in here in this world of sin by being sinful like others or we want to fit in with saints and enjoy eternity. We need to make our choice and stick to it. That is the challenge for us today. Amen.
Fr. Showreelu Simham