For November 3, 2016
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30)
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
your Son commanded us to love one another as he has loved us,
and he taught us that he loves us as you love him.
We ask you to send your Holy Spirit upon us as we read your word,
so that as we come to understand your love for us
we may better love you, and all you have created, in return.
St. Jerome: pray for us.
St. David: pray for us.
📕 The two books of the Maccabees are deuterocanonical. They relate the occupation of Israel by the Greek Seleucid dynasty. They are named for “Maccabeus”, the nickname of Judas son of Mattathias (1 Maccabees 2:4), who was the leader of the rebellion against Antiochus IV Epiphanes and his persecution of the Jews. 1 Maccabees covers the years 175—135 BC, while 2 Maccabees focuses on the first 14 years, giving a theological interpretation to the events which took place. The second book explains the feast of the Dedication of the Temple (Hannukah) and contains explicit evidence for belief in a bodily resurrection and prayer for the dead in late pre-Christian Judaism.
📖 Last Sunday’s Old Testament reading spoke mostly of God’s mercy. This Sunday’s reading speaks mostly of God’s justice. The excerpt from this chapter that we hear at Mass mentions the resurrection. We’ll read the skipped verses in the middle; the whole account of the martyrdom of seven brothers and their mother at the hands of Antiochus is worth reading.
👤 Antiochus IV Epiphanes was the 8th Seleucid emperor and reigned from 175—164 BC. After the plundering of Jerusalem under his predecessor, he sought to forcibly Hellenize the Jews – that is, to make the Jews renounce their religion and become like the Greeks.
📕 St. Luke was the author of both a gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Luke reports at the beginning of his gospel that many others had already compiled narratives of the life of Jesus, and that his is “an orderly account” intended to assure you (the reader) of the truth of the things you have heard. Both Luke and Acts are addressed to “Theophilus”, which may have been a person, but it may just be a generic term (because it is Greek for “lover of God”).
📖 The Lectionary jumps to Luke 20:27. We skip over the parable of the “talents” (19:11-27), Jesus entering Jerusalem and driving money-changers out of the Temple (19:28-48), and the chief priests and scribes testing Jesus (20:1-26). Our reading begins with another group, the Sadducees, testing Jesus by asking him about marriage and the resurrection.
👤 The Sadducees were a Jewish sect of priests. Their teachings differed from the Pharisees on a number of issues: they only accepted the first five books of the Scriptures (the Torah or Law) and they denied any concept of resurrection or even of the soul. Despite their dislike of the Pharisees, they united with them in opposition to Jesus.
🗣 What links can you find between the Old Testament and Gospel readings?
🗣 What belief does the first brother profess (verses 2 and 6)?
🗣 What belief does the second brother profess (verse 9)?
🗣 What belief does the third brother profess (verse 11)?
🗣 What belief does the fourth brother profess (verse 14)?
💪 What attitudes can we learn from these brothers?
❤️ What can we hope for in the resurrection, according to the faith of these brothers?
🗣 What did the Sadducees hope to accomplish by their question?
🗣 How would you answer the Sadducees question?
🗣 Why does Jesus say there is no marriage after the resurrection (verses 35-36)?
💪 What does Jesus’ response tell us about virginity and about marriage?
🗣 Why does Jesus refer to Moses and “the passage about the bush” (verse 37) in order to answer the Sadduceees?
🗣 How does Jesus’ answer show that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are “alive” to God?
🕊 Is Jesus’ answer, that there is no marriage in heaven, discouraging for married people?
What positive message can we get from it?
You think yourself to be forsaken, because He does not rescue when you wish. He delivered the three children from the fire (cf. Daniel 3:29-30); did He, who did this, desert the Maccabees? God forbid! He delivered both of these: the first bodily, that the faithless might be confounded; the last spiritually, that the faithful might imitate them.
St. Augustine (d. 430), On Psalm 91, 19
God revealed the resurrection of the dead to his people progressively. Hope in the bodily resurrection of the dead established itself as a consequence intrinsic to faith in God as creator of the whole man, soul and body.
Catechism 992 on 2 Maccabees 7
Virginity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven is an unfolding of baptismal grace, a powerful sign of the supremacy of the bond with Christ and of the ardent expectation of his return, a sign which also recalls that marriage is a reality of this present age which is passing away.
Catechism 1619 on Mark 12:25 (parallel to Luke 20:35)
The seven brothers were martyrs; the Greek word martyros means “witness”. How are you a witness to your faith in God in your daily life? What challenges or temptations do you face?
🗣 What have I learned about who God is,
so that I can love Him better?
🕊 What have I learned about Christ,
so that I can recognize his love for me better?
💪 What have I learned about the Christian life,
so that I can show my love for God and neighbor better?
❤️ How can I incorporate into prayer what I have learned,
so that I can express my gratitude for God’s love?
as we remember your holy saints, and all our faithful departed,
we look with hope to the promise of the resurrection.
May our desire for life with you in the world to come
compel us in this world to love you above all things,
and to love all things for your sake.
Through Christ our Lord.