Sunday Scriptures

A November of New Beginnings

by Sister Karen Cavanagh, C.S.J.

“I BELIEVE IN … the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.” (Apostles’ Creed) … “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” (Nicene Creed)

This weekend, this month of November begins a sort of countdown to the beginning of a new liturgical year. Before this month comes to a close we’ll have started our prayer and celebration of Advent.

The Scriptures of these next Sundays focus on the “last things” and “end times.” Paul reminds us of the hope we’re to have as we reflect on our own deaths and on our bodies as limited earthly dwellings.

As Christians, our reflection is to be a hope-filled waiting for God’s return in glory and for God’s bringing us to a new and heavenly dwelling. Paul encourages us as disciples to join in his prayer that the Word of God speed forward and that our prayer be one of intercession. This intercession is not for us alone, but for our world and for God’s promise of salvation to all believers.

Fullness of Promise

From the seven days of creation, through seven colors in the rainbow, to John’s Gospel “I AMs,” the gifts of The Holy Spirit and seven sacraments to cite a few, the number seven signifies a completion, a perfection, a fullness of promise, both physical and spiritual. Today, it’s seven brothers.

As a young child the only seven brothers I knew were the ones who danced their way into an Academy Award, that is, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (or maybe a moving company in Brooklyn).

Today, the Church uses stories of two sets of seven brothers to teach us about the mystery of life which never ends – of resurrection and eternal life. The Church reminds us of the promise of union and eternal “completion” with God, Who is the life that never ends.

Roots of Christian Hope

The author of Maccabees, Paul and Jesus hold up to our lives the truth and challenge that we belong to God, and our bodies – these limited earthly dwellings – will know God face to face in a never-ending life. What that will look like is only imagined by limited human abilities. But the reality is the sevenfold promise of the God of everlasting encouragement and good hope. All the readings and the psalm proclaim these roots of Christian hope.

The first reading is painfully a “bit too close to home” in today’s world. Our eyes, our ears, our hearts and our spirits have witnessed death, persecution, violence and terror over and over. As a people we seem numbed, dazed and paralyzed by this. The Gospel message, at this time, can seem lost in despair and fear, in a senseless need for power, a disregard for life and a denial that we’re a people called to bring about God’s reign.

Jesus’ dialogue in today’s Gospel is with the Sadducees, a religious party which refuted His message of resurrection and eternal life. They applied law and human experience to deny any possible afterlife. Jesus reminds them how limited their thinking is when it cannot see or imagine a life beyond the present age, when it judges in earthly, narrow and often exclusive terms. Jesus is proclaiming that the law of love surpasses limited or rigid legalism.

Limitless Love

God is the author of all life and gives it to us freely at birth and at death. It’s a limitless love. Even today this way becomes denied by many. Paul wrote to the Corinthians and we sing out in prayer: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard what God has ready for those who love Him.” (Marty Haugen)

We can barely imagine that future life. However, doesn’t God send encouraging reminders and challenges as we journey in this present life? Some are “loud and clear” – a seemingly miraculous recovery, a brand new life, watching a dying loved one reach for or experience of something other than here, a sense or a presence with us.

Others are more subtle – a word, an encouraging support, words of a poem or prayer, a clarity not experienced before, an “aha” moment. We have God’s Word, bread and wine of Eucharist and a community of believers to strengthen us. We need keep our eyes, ears, hearts and behaviors open, sensitized and receptive to that law of love and promise of God to each of us.

Not So ‘Ordinary’ Times

Next Sunday will be the last Sunday of “Ordinary Time,” and this is not any ordinary week. By midpoint, Americans will have chosen the country’s leaders for the next four years. In doing so, let us pray: “Spirit of Love, come give us the mind of Jesus. Teach us the wisdom of God.” (Marty Haugen)

Let us offer intercession for our Church, our world, our country and each other this week.

God help and bless us all.


Readings for 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

2 Maccabees 7: 1-2, 9-14

Psalm 17: 1, 5-6, 8, 15

2 Thessalonians 2: 16 – 3:5

Luke 20: 27-38 or

Luke 20: 27, 34-38


 

Sister Karen Cavanagh, C.S.J., a trained spiritual director and retreat facilitator, is a pastoral associate/family minister at St. Nicholas of Tolentine parish, Jamaica.

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