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Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

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

The Word This Week

It is fortuitous that this passage of the Gospel is normally read near to the beginning of November, when we have celebrated the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, since it is a strong proclamation of the reality of life after death and the resurrection of the body. This Sunday is not without its difficulties, however, since this message is framed in two very sensitive passages: we have a story of cruelty and martyrdom in the first reading, and a controversial (and possibly upsetting) question about marriage in the Gospel. Remember that the example that the Sadducees bring is ridiculous, legalistic and completely misses the point: Jesus’ reply does not mean that we are not with our loved ones after death – quite the contrary, he proclaims that we will all become one with God and each other as children of God.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: 2 Maccabees 7:1-2.9-14

The books of Maccabees are from the very end of the Old Testament, and just before the time of Christ. They describe the people of Israel fighting against the Greek rulers who, after the campaign of Alexander the Great, had taken possession of their land. The Greek kings despised and forbade the practice of the Jewish faith, and the story we read today was something of a “test case”. Stories of religious persecution and torture are not easy to read, and yet such things still happen in our world today. We have a duty not to shrink away from this. While we read this passage in order to hear the fourth brother’s profession of faith in “God’s promise that we shall be raised by him…”, the example of perseverance in the face of persecution is as valid for our age as any other.


Second Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:16 – 3:5

In today’s selection Paul is, in a sense, dealing with the same issue as the first reading – how to persevere in faith when facing the opposition of “…bigoted and evil people…” This was a reality for the early church. While our own culture may not persecute the church in the way that Paul knew, we still have to face bigotry and interference – and in some parts of the world the opposition to Christianity is still more threatening. Use the words that Paul addresses to the Christians of Thessalonica to speak to your congregation this Sunday: let them be encouraged by Paul’s words and example. Watch the first sentence, which piles up a few clauses before it gets to the key phrase, “…comfort you and strengthen you…” When you read the second paragraph, remember that people should still have the words of the Psalm in their minds – a prayer for perseverance in the face of trial. Let this help you to put the meaning into the words you proclaim.


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