Nov 16, 2007

Homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C- Cronulla and Bundeena parishes - 11 November, 2007

Readings: Gospel: Luke 20:27-38, 1st reading: 2 Macc 7:1-2, 9-14, 2nd reading: 2 Thess 2:16-3:5

“I shall see your face and be filled, when I awake, with the sight of your glory.” Ps 16:15.

The psalmist today brings our minds and hearts to the glory of God. The glory of God in the Beatific Vision – seeing God face to face, is what humanity has been made for, and it is what God desires for us.

God created the world and created humanity. Some of the older members of our congregation would remember back to the days when children were required to learn the answers to many of the questions in the little green Catechism, or its full name as the Baltimore Catechism.

Children would respond to a question about Why did God make us? with the answer “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.”

My friends, God has created humanity for Heaven and the Beatific Vision. God desires that each one us choose God and choose to live for ever in Heaven. In fact, Christian writers over the centuries have spoken about this heavenly hardwiring within humanity. St Augustine, among others, famously said that “Man is restless until he rests in God!” For a man or woman to be truly at peace, we need to be moving towards the purpose for which we are created.

It is very easy to become so focussed on everything in the world, on our businesses, families, our social work, and so on, and lose sight of the bigger picture. God has created us for Heaven. If we do everything we do in this world with a mindset that we are preparing ourselves for Heaven and are choosing Heaven through our thoughts and actions, then our life will make sense.

God does not exclude anyone from Heaven, but God will not force anyone into Heaven who doesn’t want to be there.

My friends, Australia has one of the highest levels of suicide in the world, and we are very quickly becoming one of the most secular and God-less countries in the world. Despite what people say, most Christians who are authentically trying to live for Heaven and are living life in Christ, are more settled, peaceful, loving and are often more forgiving of their own personal mistakes and the mistakes of others.

Living for Heaven is what we are made for. In today’s first reading there is a story from Maccabees about a number of brothers who are willing to allow everything to be taken from them in this life in order to perfectly reflect God’s laws and thus choose eternal life with God.

One brother makes the bold statement of faith just before he is killed “The King of the world will raise us up” (2 Macc 7:10). Another brother proclaims faith in God and faith in eternal life by saying “It was heaven that gave me these limbs.”

My friends, we are made for eternal life, not just spiritually but also physically. If we choose Christ, God will raise us up physically from the dead. In the Apostles Creed we pray “We believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”

My friends, the brothers in today’s first reading died with Christ. They indeed will rise with Christ to dwell for ever in Heaven.

What we choose to do physically is what we do spiritually. This may sound complicated, but a choice for Christ and for Heaven is a choice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is not just 1 hour or a couple of hours a week. Eternal life is what we are made for. My friends, how often do we live as if we are prepared to enter into Heaven tomorrow?

Are we willing to allow our life to be taken away from us so that we can keep our faith in Christ and eternal life pure? Are we willing to say no to immoral activities and practices in our world? My friends, evil is present in our world. We have a choice to choose God or to embrace the evil, unhappiness and division that we all see around us.

In today’s Gospel, some of the Sadducees asked Jesus about who will be married in Heaven. Jesus interestingly responds: “Those who are judged worthy of a place in the other world and in the resurrection from the dead do not marry because they can no longer die, for they are the same as the angels, and being children of the resurrection they are sons of God.” (Luke 20:35.)

My friends, there is no marriage in Heaven. Don’t expect that your husband will get to Heaven simply because you desire to spend eternity with him. Once in Heaven, relationships will be with God, and from there we will all be sons and daughters of God.

Procreation will not occur in Heaven and relationships as we understand them today will most likely not occur in Heaven. Seeing God face to face is what Heaven is about. Entering into complete communion with God is why we are called to Heaven. Communion with God is what God desires of us.

St Augustine said: “What other end do we have, if not to reach the Kingdom of God which has no end.”[1]

Only through complete unity and resting with God in goodness do men and women find their purpose in life. St Augustine, who is one of Pope Benedict’s favourite saints, said that “Things which are not in their intended position are restless. Once they are in their ordered position, they are at rest.”

My friends, God has created us. He has created us in His goodness to dwell for all eternity in his presence in Heaven. This is what we are made for.

In a moment we will enter into the Liturgy of the Eucharist where we will connect with the Heavenly realities. Around this altar, heaven and earth are united. As we receive Christ in the Eucharist, the Lord continues to strengthen us in this world, so that we can daily walk towards the Heavenly inheritance which is promised to us.

“I shall see your face and be filled, when I awake, with the sight of your glory.” (Ps 16:15.)

[1] St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei (The City of God) Book XXII, Chapter 30.

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