Waiting in Sure Hope
(32nd Ordinary Sunday: 2 Maccabees 7:1-2,9-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5; Luke 20:27-38)
The readings for this weekend follow closely on the Solemnity of All Saints and the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls Day). Therefore it seems the proper time to talk about resurrection and the theological virtue of Hope.
In the first reading we hear part of the story of a mother who witnessed the torture and death of her seven sons, before being put to death herself, for refusing to eat pork. The fourth son expressed their motivation: “It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up by him.”
Mary’s complaint at La Salette about people going to the butcher shops in Lent stands in sharp contrast to the faith for which those brave persons gave their lives. They inspire our admiration. How willing would we be, however, in comparable circumstances, to imitate them? The very thought makes us pray that our faith might never be put to such a test.
Paul reminds the Thessalonians that God “has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace,” and “will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.”
In the gospel, Jesus insists on the resurrection. This is reflected in the conclusion of the Nicene Creed: “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.”
It is easy to imagine that, at La Salette, the Beautiful Lady’s tears flowed most abundantly when she spoke of children under the age of seven who would die in the arms of those who held them. She knew from painful experience what their mothers would suffer. But if her people refused to turn back to God, where would they find the hope required to see them though their time of grief?
The crucifix Mary wore was blindingly bright. But let us not forget that the cross, an instrument of death, was first and foremost a cruel means of prolonging and aggravating death through torture and humiliation. And yet it has become our chief source of hope.
Jesus will come, as we say in the Creed, to judge the living and the dead. May we be found waiting in the sure hope of the resurrection.
Wayne Vanasse and Fr. René Butler, M.S.