Reflection for Sunday – November 6, 2016
Readings: 2 Maccabees 7: 1-2, 9-14, 2 Thessalonians 2: 16-35, Luke 20: 27-38
Preacher: Sr. Barbara Moore
The first reading from the Old Testament and the Gospel from Luke are what we might in Bible study at Colgate Rochester Divinity School call “difficult texts.” They are texts a preacher would rather avoid, not only because they contain violence, but also they speak of practices such as the Levite marriage referred to in the Gospel. A wife often married the brother of her deceased spouse. Why? To continue his line with children. A practice that was diminished by Jesus’ time.
But in each of the readings, there are phrases and images that help us deal with the difficulty of the texts, and move us to a different place in our meditation on the words.
In our first reading, our breath is taken away by the violence the King and his soldiers inflicted on the seven brothers and their mother. A violence that resulted from a clash of understandings, power and faith. But this story is not unfamiliar to us these days is it? Families, children, loved ones killed at times because of power and religious beliefs. I think of Syria. While the text is painful to read, the pictures of children and hospitals destroyed in Syria is on the same scale. The story is very modern!
The Sadducees in the Gospel play with the number seven. Seven brothers marry the same woman, all die and then the situation becomes….to whom does she belong? They did not believe in resurrection and one senses a ploy being used to trap Jesus. Never mind the poor woman who was just property.
But note, what Jesus does with the question. “That the dead will rise….” But then the powerful statement that follows. “God is not the God of the dead but of the living.” Jesus pulls the listeners right back to the present moment where we have the opportunity to make a difference for those who suffer and are in need. It is here where our task lies and that way of living will take care of the next life.
And the 2nd Letter to the Thessalonians continues that advice for the present moment. God is faithful, God will strengthen us, God will guide us and give us encouragement. “May our Lord Jesus Christ…encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.” These are prayers that speak to our relationships with others. Words and deeds…the present moment.
Jesus ends the Gospel with the statement, “For God all are alive.” May that reality influence us as we deal with others, serve them and work for their well-being.