Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. G. Peter Irving III

11/24/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We who are believers in Christ do not wonder about what lies beyond the grave. Faith reveals to us the certainty of eternal life.

Highlights

By Fr. G. Peter Irving III

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/24/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Year of Faith

Keywords: Year of Faith, homilies, Fr G Peter Irving III, Holy Innocents Long Beach, eternal life, Christian death


LONG BEACH, CA (Catholic Online) - The Sadducees were a wealthy and influential religious and political party at the time of Jesus. In today's Gospel, they approach the Lord with a question which they are convinced will leave Him stumped. It's the conundrum of the woman who marries seven times and becomes a widow seven times. "Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her." They're thinking, "Gotcha," but in short order they will walk away scratching their heads.

What lies behind their question is the Sadducees' denial of the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body. The Sadducees limited the Old Testament scriptural "canon" to the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses, so Jesus answers them on their own terms.

He cites the "burning bush" narrative of Exodus 3:6. Here the Lord God reveals Himself as the God of the long deceased patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who are not dead but alive! God is not the "God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him all are alive." At this point, St. Luke tells us, "They no longer dared to ask him anything." Case closed.

However, in our age of growing unbelief the case is not closed. There are growing numbers of people who think that this life is all there is, that when death comes the lights turn off and then there is nothingness. This belief is comforting for people who have lived only for themselves and shudder at the thought having to someday answer for their self-absorbed lives. 

This notion of a non-existent afterlife may also be a welcoming thought to those who are undergoing unbearable moral or physical suffering. Death for these people, especially if it is self-induced, is seen as the ultimate pain reliever.

But those who subscribe to such impoverished views, whether they realize it or not, are fighting against several things. First, they are fighting against the "democracy of the dead." G. K. Chesterton once wrote: "Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about."

It is a human "tradition," if you will, that there is life beyond this life. Virtually every culture and civilization before us has had some notion of an afterlife. The pyramids of Egypt and elsewhere stand as a kind of emblem of this persistent and universal acknowledgement of eternal life.

The deniers of eternal life are also fighting against themselves. Human beings naturally intuit that there is something more to life, something beyond this world. When a child suffers the misfortune of losing a loved one and is told that grandpa is "with God" or "has gone to heaven," the child does not doubt it. He may have difficulty accepting the loss of someone so dear, but that there is a better place beyond this world he does not deny. He will only deny it if he is taught to do so.

We who are believers in Christ do not have to wrestle with this question. We don't have to wonder about what lies beyond the grave. Faith reveals to us the certainty of eternal life. It is every bit as certain as the life we are living now in this body. But, as we all know full well, this natural life will not last forever. There will come for each of us the moment when our life on this earth will reach its end.

It is neither macabre nor unhealthy to have before us always the thought of our own death. One of my favorite saints, Saint Josemaria Escriva, with a brutal honesty put it this way: 

"Do not fear death. Death is your friend! Try to get used to the fact of death: peer into your grave often, looking at and smelling, and touching your own rotting corpse there, a week, no more, after your death. Remember this especially when you are troubled by the impulses of the flesh" (The Forge, 1035).

Having a realistic attitude toward death will help us not only to prepare well for our own, but it will also lead us to look forward to the life to come. Is this not what we say every Sunday when we recite the Profession of Faith? "I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come."

In these final days of this month dedicated to the Holy Souls in purgatory, let us pray also for ourselves who will one day be in "that number." Let us pray for the grace to die a holy and happy death in the company of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Fr. G. Peter Irving III is a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and pastor of Holy Innocents Church, Long Beach.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More Year of Faith

The Wedding Invitation of Jesus: We are Called to Live the Nuptial Mystery Watch

Image of There will be no giving or taking in marriage in the kingdom to come because the very purpose and meaning of marriage itself will be fulfilled. (See, e.g. Mk. 12:18-27) We will be living in the fullness of the Communion of Love with the Trinity. The symbol will give way to the eternal reality, the Sacrament will be fulfilled in the fullness of communion. All of human love will be completed in the Love which lasts forever.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

It is not accidental that the Bible, from beginning to the end, uses marriage as a metaphor and a symbol to reveal the plan of God for the whole human race.  Marriage was God's plan from the beginning as we see in the first book of Genesis. Throughout the Old ... continue reading


The Sower. The Seed. The Field. Understanding the Christian Mission Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

"A sower went out to sow. And, as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for ... continue reading


Reflection on the Catholic Catechism: Understanding the Bible Watch

Image of

By Michael Terheyden

How we interpret the Bible is of immense importance! It directly affects what we believe about Christ, the Church, and our faith, but it is also related to many of the grave problems in our society and the world. Yet, despite the gravity of this situation, we have good ... continue reading


Christ the King, the Year of Faith and the Catholic Counterculture Watch

Image of On this Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Year of Faith inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI comes to a ceremonial end. However, in reality, it cannot and will not end, because Jesus Christ is King! The Year of Faith was only the beginning for those who choose to live the Life of Faith.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It is one of many opportunities the Catholic Church year offers to each one of us to consider the creature called time, receive it as a gift, and begin to really live our lives differently.  This is one of ... continue reading


The Bones of Peter, the Successor of Peter: Close of the Year of Faith Watch

Image of The bones of St. Peter the Apostle

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On the Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Sunday which marks both the end of the Church Year and the end of the Year of Faith, inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis greeted thousands of the faithful and presided over Holy Mass and the ... continue reading


Fr Randy Sly on Becoming a House of Prayer Watch

Image of Jesus drives the money changers from the temple. 

With hearts clear and focused on our Lord, we can follow the advice of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Everything starts with prayer. Love to pray--feel the need to pray often during the day and take the trouble to pray. If you want to pray better, you must pray more. The more you pray, the easier it becomes. Perfect prayer does not consist of many words but in the fervor of the desire which raises the heart to Jesus. (Fr. Randy Sly)

By Father Randy Sly

Becoming a House of Prayer is the best discipline we can take on. St. Ephraem of Syria states that Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy ... continue reading


Jesus Weeps and Offers the Path to Peace Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

If this day you only knew what makes for peace- but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your ... continue reading


The Kingdom of God is Among You. What Did Jesus Mean? Watch

Image of The Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well. Indeed, we call an apostolate every activity of the Mystical Body that aims to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth. (CCC#863)

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In Jesus Christ, the Kingdom has been inaugurated. Upon his return it will be made complete and fully manifested in a new heaven and a new earth. We are members of the Body of Christ which makes it present here and now - as seed and sign for a world which is in labor. ... continue reading


Year of Faith: Bringing the Feast of the Presentation of Mary to Life Watch

Image of The Feast of the Presentation of Mary is celebrated in both the Eastern and Western Churches. It recalls the day in the life of the Jewish girl named Mary (Maryam) when her parents, Joachim and Anne, presented her to the Lord in the temple and dedicated her life to Him.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On this Feast of the Presentation of Mary, let us make the choice to surrender ourselves to the same Lord who Joachim and Ann honored when they presented their dear daughter in the temple. Their daughter, Mary, became the Second Eve. The New Creation was born through ... continue reading


WEDNESDAY HOMILY: Our Lady's Encouragement Watch

Image of

By Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT

I got off the subway at Termini station and went up to the busy streets of Rome.  I had to walk past the place where all the prostitutes gathered.  I looked down at the street and began to pray in fear.  Suddenly I heard a feminine voice say, "Be a man!" ... continue reading


All Year of Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Samuel 1:24-28
24 When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, ... Read More

Psalm, First Samuel 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8
1 Hannah then prayed as follows: My heart exults in ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:46-56
46 And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 22nd, 2014 Image

St. Chaeromon
December 22: Bishop of Nilopolis, in Egypt. When the persecution was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter