Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Wednesday in the 9th Week of Ordinary Time (I)
God of the Living

Readings: Tobit 3:1-11a, 16-17a; Psalm 25:2-3, 4-5ab, 6 and 7bc, 8-9; Mark 12:18-27

He is God, not of the dead, but of the living…

It’s easy to mistake the exchange between Jesus and the Sadducees in the gospel as a purely academic discussion about the possibility of life in the hereafter. It’s easy to dismiss it as being of little relevance to us since, as followers of Christ, we all already believe in the resurrection from the dead. We profess as much when we recite the creed at Mass every Sunday. Yet we might well wonder at the content as well as the extent of our belief.

What does it really mean to believe in the resurrection? What good does it do for a person who does believe? What difference does it make in such a person’s life? Are the benefits of such a belief only to be enjoyed after we leave our physical existence in this world? Or should belief in the resurrection not have an impact primarily in the way we live our lives in the here and now.

If there is one gift that belief in the resurrection brings it is hope. And our first reading presents us with two images of what hope might look like.

Both Tobit and Sarah are in dire straits. Life has not been easy for them. Rather, at this point in the story, each of them is moved to think that it is better to die than to live in the face of trouble that has no pity. Indeed, Sarah is driven even to the brink of suicide. Yet, in the midst of their troubles, each one somehow finds the strength to pray a prayer of lamentation. Even as the last rays of hope seem to fade from the horizon, even as they are engulfed by the darkness of night, they continue to turn to God in prayer, if only to express what is in the painful depths of their broken hearts. And we are told that the prayer of each of them found favour before the glory of God… God hears them and sends Raphael, a name which means God has healed, to bring remedy to them both…

Isn’t this what belief in the resurrection looks like? It looks like people who continue to cling to God even when all seems lost, people who hope against all hope, people who lift up their souls to God in the midst of affliction. This is the same hope that Jesus himself demonstrated when he walked the road to Calvary, and when he cried out from the Cross: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Rather than a purely academic exercise, belief in the resurrection has very practical implications for daily living. The hope that it contains spurs us on to keep on keeping on even when all seems hopeless, to continue to face the challenges of daily Christian living even when all we feel like doing is to lie down and die. For our hope is in a God, not of the dead, but of the living.

How are we being invited to renew our belief in the resurrection today?

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