In the first reading from the book of Maccabees one of the brothers answered, “We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors”. In the Gospel, Jesus reminded the Sadducees who were denying the Resurrection that there will be one at the end of earthly life and only those who are deemed worthy by God will attain it.
Dearest sisters and brothers, today’s readings remind us about the most important truth that should guide our lives. That our earthly lives have an eternal destination and that we are not simply products of chance bumping aimlessly in a purposeless world. We all came from God and we are going back to Him.
It is true that God created us without our help, but he cannot save us without our cooperation. How we spend our earthly lives will determine our eternal destiny, and will very much depend on how we have responded to God’s invitation in our lives now. St. Paul in the second reading encouraged his Thessalonian listeners to continue to follow his instructions and that the Lord should direct their hearts to the love of God.
Today, we are confronted with ideas that try to deny the eternal dimension of our lives or make it less urgent encouraging us to occupy our hearts only with the passing things of life. Today’s readings bring back the truth of our Credo to us: “We look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come”.
This truth about eternal life is what motivated the seven brothers of the Maccabees to die as martyrs. As one of them responded, “It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up by him”. What courage!
In our own case, though we may not have been “called to die literally as martyrs”, yet we are called to live as they did. To be a martyr is to be a public witness. Are we ready to witness publicly to the truth of faith with our lives? When Christian moral values are being attacked what is our reaction? Is our belief in the Resurrection strong enough that it influences how we live now?