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SUNDAY HOMILY | Understanding life after death, by Rev. Fr. Ambrose Anene

*Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, November 6, 2022

REV. FR. (DR.) AMBROSE ONYEKA ANENE SDB

READING:  2 Maccabees 7:1-2.9-14)

In those days, it happened that seven brothers and their mother were arrested and were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and cords, to partake of unlawful swine flesh.

One of them, acting as their spokesman, said: “What do you intend to ask and learn from us? For we are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our fathers…The king of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life.”

One of the most misunderstood, misconceived, misinterpreted, controversial and misquoted truths about existence is the concept of life after death. Many philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists and theologians have tried to give convincing explanation of the existence of heaven. While some believe in the existence of life after death, others categorically say that there is nothing like life after death.

Our belief in life after death affects consciously and unconsciously the way we live our lives and the way we treat others.

The three readings of today are well footed on the understanding of life after death.
In the first reading, seven brothers and their mother were arrested and were being forced to eat pork meat which is against the Jewish belief. They preferred to die rather than eat swine flesh. I know that in the face of death, people can do anything possible to evade it. But what happened in the case of this family? What gave them courage not to fear dying? Why did they prefer death to eating pork?

One explanation is sure: their hope in the life after death, their hope that they would be  rewarded at the resurrection of the dead.

This belief is stronger than death and it affects all they did on this earth. In the end they offered their lives for what they loved most, that’s ‘eternal life.’

Gospel

“At that time: There came to Jesus some Sadducees, those who say that there is no resurrection…”

It’s interesting the way the Sadducees came to Jesus with a well articulated question supported by an interesting example of the teaching of Moses on brotherly relationship to buttress their belief and assertion that there is no resurrection or life after death.

However, Jesus used the insincere inquiry as an opportunity to deliver a genuine teaching.
The first thing he did was to challenge the assumption that the afterlife is just a continuation of this life, with some extras thrown in. Jesus made it clear to them that there is no comparison between this present life and that of the resurrection – “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the generation from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”

Secondly, Jesus used a another argument to support belief in the resurrection of the dead. God is known as God of the living. He is known as God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These means that these our patriarchs are still living after their earthly deaths.

What we believe in life controls how we live our lives. It’s obvious that so many people including so-called Christians do not believe in the resurrection. That’s why we live our lives and act as if everything ends here on earth.

To show that we believe in the resurrection, everyday must be a preparation for our resurrection.

This can be seen by the way we treat others and the way we love and worship God.

Let us ask ourselves these very important questions? Do we really believe in resurrection? If so how does it influence our way of life?

God help me always to remember that one day I must leave this world and come back to you. Jesus I trust in You. Amen.

May Almighty God bless us and protect us from all evil through Christ our Lord Amen. Have a wonderful and blessed Sunday.

  • REV. FR. DR. AMBROSE ANENE SDB is Parish Priest, Church of the Archangels, Gaduwa Estate, Abuja Archdiocese.
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