Saturday, 7 December 2019

December 8th 2019. Second Sunday of Advent
GOSPEL: Matthew 3:1-12
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini broadcast on Vatican Radio

Please check us out of Facebook

Don Fabio’s homily follows the Gospel

GOSPEL: Matthew 3, 1-12
John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"
It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.

John wore clothing made of camel's hair
and had a leather belt around his waist.
His food was locusts and wild honey.
At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,
and the whole region around the Jordan
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees
coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers!
Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves,
'We have Abraham as our father.'
For I tell you,
God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the axe lies at the root of the trees.
Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand.
He will clear his threshing floor
and gather his wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ

Kieran’s summary . . . During their sojourn of forty years in the desert, the people of the Israel learned that life was precarious and that they needed to place their trust in the Lord. When John the Baptist appears, it is in the desert and he is dressed in the manner of a pilgrim. He is challenging all of us to enter the desert, shed what we do not need and turn back to the Lord. What is the Advent of the Lord? It involves an axe and a fire coming into my life. There are many things in my life that must be shed. We must be ready to be pruned and to accept losses. Those who have major difficulties in discernment are those who are not willing to lose anything. The Lord is good and beautiful; therefore I must be ready to lose that which is not good and beautiful; I must be ready to shed that which is ambiguous in my life. We must be freed from the chaff that does not bear fruit, from branches that are stupid and useless. Advent is a time to praise God who wants to do something in my life that is good, beautiful and fruitful. Let us allow the Lord to do this. Our hearts must be ready to be freed from that which is useless. We cling to the chaff that leads nowhere. The Lord wishes constantly to purify us. The theme of purification is essential in the spiritual life. That which weighs us down must be discarded. Our Saviour wishes to draw us into a life that is simple, sober, agile and free; a life that cannot be lost. The Holy Spirit comes as fire and frees the Church from its delusions, wastes of time and deceptions. He frees Christians from that which is non-Christian and frees humanity from what is inhuman. We must ask the Lord to strike us in this wholesome way, even if it hurts. And it will hurt, because we are attached to small and useless things. John the Baptist comes, dressed as a pilgrim, to bring us all on pilgrimage, to bring us into the desert of purification, to bring us to the light to the kingdom of God.

John the Baptist calls us a brood of vipers, i.e., people who are born of the serpent. And it is true. Who else but the serpent has taught us that we can disregard the love of God and not have to suffer any negative consequences
Seeing many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to him for baptism, John the Baptist told them: "Brood of vipers! Who made you believe you could escape the impending wrath?" What a character, John the Baptist! He addresses the religious leaders as being of the family of vipers, the most treacherous and poisonous snake. John tells them that they are of the viper breed, that is, born of a snake. What does he mean? He goes on: "Who made you believe you could escape the coming wrath?” What is this wrath and who is it that makes us think we can escape it? There are things that distance us from love and bring us closer to God’s wrath. There are acts that create disorder. In Scripture, the wrath of God is not a moment of divine nervousness, but a key to understanding what happens when good is rejected. When we reject the love and goodness of God, then reality becomes hostile towards us, as happens in the story of Adam and Eve of Genesis 3.

We have listened to the lies of the serpent and become deceptive and hypocritical. The Lord will take an axe to the root of the tree and cut away all that is foreign to salvation
In this story, the serpent himself told a lie which humanity believed: "You will not die at all!” (Gen 3: 4). We have learned not to fear sin, not to be afraid of the consequences of disordered acts. We have been taught that we can escape imminent wrath: lying is not a problem, not observing the rules is no big deal, wallowing in sensuality is ok.  We have been trained in the hypocritical art of compromise, of thinking that no bad consequences will come our way. But John the Baptist tells us that "the axe is placed at the root of the trees; every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire". If only! If only this axe would come into our lives! It would tear away from us all that is not salvation, all that is foreign to love, incompatible with Heaven, alien to the good.

We have learned to get by. We present ourselves during Advent to John the Baptist with our heads sprinkled in ashes, but our pockets are full of disobedience and compromises. There is a saying in Italian, “When the feast day is over, the saint discovers that he has been tricked”. In other words, we celebrate these feasts, take advantage of them as an excuse to eat, drink and be merry, all the while paying lip-service to the saint in question, but when all is said and done we have just used that saint for our own selfish purposes. Advent has begun. When it is over, will it leave us exactly as it found us?  The readings tell us that something great and beautiful is coming, the one who "baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire", the one who puts the life of God in man! “Oh really?” we answer. “That’s interesting”. And then we return to our usual mediocrity. There is a great risk that this Advent will be of no use to us, that it will be the umpteenth pre-Christmas dinner liturgical act. Then Christmas will pass, and Lent, and Easter. the gift of the Spirit will come ... and we will always be the same half-Christians. I am not exaggerating. Read the words of John the Baptist: "He holds the shovel in his hand and will clean his threshing floor and gather his wheat in the barn, but he will burn the straw with an unquenchable fire." Let us ask for a grace: not to continue with this mediocrity anymore. Let us not be satisfied with this non-love we have inside. Let us cease being tortured by our ambiguity and compromises. A Psalm says: "Despise evil, you who love the Lord". May the Lord give us the gift of this “hatred” which is an interior ax: the desire to live well and to love, so that our hearts are purified.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

December 1st 2019. First Sunday of Advent
GOSPEL: Matthew 24:37-44
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini broadcast on Vatican Radio

Please check us out of Facebook

Don Fabio’s homily follows the Gospel

GOSPEL: Matthew 24, 37-44
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘As it was in Noah’s day, so will it be when the Son of Man comes. For in those days before the Flood people were eating, drinking, taking wives, taking husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and they suspected nothing till the Flood came and swept all away. It will be like this when the Son of Man comes. Then of two men in the fields one is taken, one left; of two women at the millstone grinding, one is taken, one left.
‘So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming. You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house. Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ

Kieran’s summary . . . In the Gospel, Jesus mentions the flood at the time of Noah. The fact is that many floods are necessary in the life of each one of us. Many things need to be washed away at regular intervals so that the Lord can enter our lives more fully and we can make a new beginning. In our society today, we are obsessed by physical beauty, nutrition, wellbeing and self-referential “romantic” relationships. If my life is of this sort, then my own ego is the master of my house. Then, when the Son of Man comes, when a crisis occurs, I will have difficulty coping. I will be like the people at the time of Noah who are swept away by the impending disaster. Jesus says, “The Son of Man is coming like a thief at a time you do not expect”. But if I make Jesus the master of my house, then he will not come like a thief. No thief steals from his own house! I am called to renounce possessions, projects, and the tyranny of my own ego. I am called to permit Jesus to be the master of my life and my world. When Jesus is master, then I am always ready to interrupt my projects or activities, to change direction and rethink my plans, in order to follow the one and only master of my life.

Today, the world that needs to be washed away by the “flood” is our obsession with physical wellbeing, beauty and self-referential relationships
Noah must have seemed crazy to his neighbours - building a huge ship in the mountains! But this strange project became something that saved. In the Gospel, Jesus says that in "the days of Noah" people "ate and drank, took wives and took husbands". What is so strange about that? What should a normal person do? People eat and marry. The same anthropology is around today: bodily needs and affective satisfactions are the main theme. What else should people be concerned about? At the present time, our society is obsessed with the wellbeing of the body. We are fixated with physical beauty and nutrition. There is a huge emphasis on affective and sexual freedoms. Yet none of this had led to greater happiness! At the time of Noah "they noticed nothing until the flood came and swept away all away". Only Noah, the half idiot, was saved. Only he was aware of the impending disaster. What does it mean? That we have to build crazy boats instead of focussing on beauty, nutrition and romantic relationships? In a way, yes!

Too often, my ego is the master of my world. When divine providence knocks on my door, if a crisis happens, I go into meltdown. This is the Son of Man coming like a thief to wipe away the rubbish from my life. But if I make Jesus the master of my life, then he will not come like a thief, because he already owns my house!
The Lord is asking each of us to build a boat to save us from a different type of flood. It is necessary that every now and then the things that are non-essential in our lives are washed away. The Son of Man can be described as a thief who comes and wipes away everything, but he is a thief for some and not for others. When is Jesus not a thief? He is not a thief if we have allowed him to be the master of our lives! The problem is that very often my own ego is the master of my world. Then, when the Lord’s Providence and knocks on the door sends something serious my way, I am upset, impoverished and anguished.

When the Son of Man comes we must be ready to leave everything. This is a characteristic of someone who has allowed Jesus to be his only master: he is always ready to give up his own projects, his own possessions, his own activities, in order to follow what the Lord is setting before us.
We are not the true masters of anything, except our freedom to say "yes" or "no" to the Lord. If a person’s life is centered on his own ego, then everything in his life is “his” - “his” wife, “his possessions”. Such a person is not pleasant to be with. It is not easy to talk to such a person about Christ, who says: "This is my body given for you". Such talk will seem like the talk of the half-fool Noah. For St. Francis of Assisi, in fact, possession is the opposite of love. Whoever belongs to Christ has discovered that he himself is not the master of his own life. He allows the Lord to take him and use him, to call him away from his own projects and fixations, to make him change his life. When we belong to Christ, we know how important it is to be ready  to change direction, to know how to rethink our plans, to stop whatever we are doing. It is said that sometimes rigid perseverance can be diabolical. "Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect " We must be ready for what? To leave everything we have or are doing, keeping in mind who our real Master is.

Friday, 22 November 2019

November 24th 2019. Feast of Christ the King
GOSPEL: Luke 23:35-43
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini broadcast on Vatican Radio

Please check us out of Facebook

Don Fabio’s homily follows the Gospel

GOSPEL: Luke 23:35-43
The rulers sneered at Jesus and said,
"He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God."
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
"If you are King of the Jews, save yourself."
Above him there was an inscription that read,
"This is the King of the Jews."
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
"Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us."
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
"Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal."
Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ

Kieran’s summary . . . For the Feast of Christ the King, the Church presents us with the account of Jesus hanging on the cross. This prompts us to ask: what kind of king can this be, nailed to a piece of wood? The people in the Gospel scene are asking the same question in different ways! First of all the religious leaders demand that he save himself. Religion seeks a Messiah, seeks salvation, but the kind of salvation they are looking for here is an earthly kind of salvation: health, wellbeing, worldly success. Then the soldiers assail Jesus. They are looking for a king with political power. They want him to show his power by coming down off the cross. Then the “bad” thief begins to insult Jesus. He wants a Christ who will bring an end to his suffering. He represents all of suffering humanity who cannot understand the absence of God and cries out for assistance here and now. It is essential to note that Jesus does not reply to any of these. Finally the “good” thief turns to Jesus. He admits his guilt and acknowledges Jesus as a king, asking to be remembered when the Lord would come into his kingdom. Unlike all the others, he does not ask to be taken down off the cross! Now, finally, Jesus replies! “This day you will be with me in Paradise”. The good thief entered into a relationship with Jesus. So long as we are with Jesus we are in paradise. Now we see the power of Christ! Now we experience true salvation! We are saved when we enter into relationship with Jesus and remain with him. That is paradise.

The “religious” leaders demand that Jesus bring the sort of salvation that the world wants: health, wellbeing, worldly success. The soldiers demand that Jesus manifest his political power: come down from the cross and defeat your enemies! Jesus refuses to reply to either.
To celebrate the universal kingship of Jesus, the Church presents us with a paradoxical Gospel, the one in which Jesus is crucified! On the cross there is an epitaph: "King of the Jews". Is this, then, the throne of the King of the universe? In the passage Sunday, Jesus is insulted in various ways. The religious leaders tell him: "He saved others! Let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, the chosen one”. They do not deny the miracles of Jesus. Rather, they testify that Jesus indeed saved others. But it is not enough for them. What they are demanding is a religion that provides well-being, health and eliminates suffering. This is how a "chosen one" should behave! But Jesus gives no answer to these taunts. The soldiers, for their part, represent the power of Rome. The verbal insults that they aim at Jesus, in fact, are all about power: "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!" Show us that you are a king! Behave like a powerful man! What kind of king are you? Jesus gives no response to those who taunt him from a “religious” perspective and those who taunt him from a political perspective.

The crucified criminal represents suffering humanity who cries out to God for salvation but who is not changed in the process
Then one of the crucified criminals intervenes. He represents suffering humanity, hanging with Christ on the cross, with all of its problems and bitterness. "Aren't you the Christ?" he says. It should be noted that this thief, like the religious leaders, testifies that Jesus is the Messiah! He continues: "Save yourself and us!" Come on, act as Messiah! Take us out of this situation! What this poor man is asking for is very understandable. All of us, in moments of difficulty, cry out to heaven saying: "Do something for us! Why don't you help us? What kind of God are you if you don't save me?" Jesus does not respond to this man either.

By contrast, the good thief does not ask to be taken down from the cross. He acknowledges his own guilt and he confesses that Jesus is King. The only thing he asks for is that Jesus remember him.
Finally, the other evildoer enters the picture, and reproaches his companion: "Have you no fear of God, you who are condemned to the same fate? We were condemned justly, because we get what we deserve for our actions; but he did nothing wrong". This man is aware of at least two things: firstly he knows that he has done grave wrong, and secondly that he is in the presence of an innocent man who does not deserve to be there. But then he says a lot more: "Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom". So he acknowledges that Jesus, this man crucified beside him, is really a King! The soldiers asked Jesus to show his power by coming down; the religious leaders asked him to effect the kind of salvation that they wanted; but this poor criminal does not ask to be taken from the cross. Instead he says: "Remember me in your Kingdom". If you don’t forget me, then that will be enough. He asks for nothing else.

Now Jesus finally replies! Now we see his power! If we are with Jesus then we are on the road to paradise, regardless of present suffering. This is the power of the Christ
Now Christ finally speaks. It is important to note that he did not reply to any of his other interlocutors, but only to this thief.  But what a curious answer! "In truth I tell you: today you will be with me in paradise". What the thief had really asked for was a place in his heart, for a relationship with him. Being with Jesus means entering paradise. Today. If we are with Jesus then we are already in heaven. Today together on the cross, today together in paradise. The point is being with Christ. For this self-confessed criminal, the darkness becomes a tunnel with a light at the end. Suffering is still there, but there is also light. Now he knows where he is going because he knows who he is going with. In fact, St Paul says, "If we die with him, we will also live with him; if we persevere, we will also reign with him" (2 Tm 2,11). The real issue is being with him. With Jesus, the cross becomes the door of paradise. This is where his true power lies!

Friday, 15 November 2019

November 17th 2019. Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time
GOSPEL: Luke 21:5-19
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini broadcast on Vatican Radio

Please check us out of Facebook

Don Fabio’s homily follows the Gospel

GOSPEL: Luke 21:5-19
When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, Jesus said, ‘All these things you are staring at now-the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed’. And they put to him this question: ‘Master,’ they said ‘when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that this is about to take place?’
‘Take care not to be deceived,’ he said ‘because many will come using my name and saying, “I am he” and, “The time is near at hand”. Refuse to join them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened, for this is something that must happen but the end is not so soon.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there; there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.
‘But before all this happens, men will seize you and persecute you; they will hand you over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and bring you before kings and governors because of my name – and that will be your opportunity to bear witness. Keep this carefully in mind: you are not to prepare your defence, because I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relations and friends; and some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your endurance will win you your lives.’
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ

Kieran’s summary . . . Sunday’s Gospel highlights the fact that the things of this earth are not eternal. In response to our anxiety about the finitude of this world, many false messiahs will come, Jesus tells us in this passage. People seek out the false messiahs of pleasure, possessions, entertainment, health, wellbeing, big ambitious projects. All of these things are efforts to exorcize our feelings of emptiness. The advice that the Lord gives us in this Gospel is not to follow any of these false solutions. These solutions make things in this world into absolutes, but such earthly things can never be ultimate. Then Jesus tells us that we must expect to be rejected by others in this world. If everyone thinks well of me and applauds me, then it is clear that I am no prophet! If we are open and honest about the emptiness and vainglory of this world, then we can expect the world to reject us! We must expect tribulation in the world because our priorities lie elsewhere. Where does a Christian normally manifest his Christianity? Upon the cross. True generosity is demonstrated in the midst of famine. Peacefulness is manifested best when a person is subjected to violence. Peacefulness at times of peace may be nothing more than wellbeing. Difficult situations are opportunities for great and sincere witness. At the end of the passage, Jesus tells us that we must not prepare our defence when we are handed over for persecution because he himself will give us his eloquence and wisdom. What is the point here? The point is that it is in our relationship with Jesus that things find their joy, meaning, peace. It is in relationship with Jesus that things go beyond tribulation, and endure beyond death, This world ends, and may bring about our end in a violent way, but if we are in the hands of God then we attain true freedom from these things that are passing.

Everything in this world will come to an end. Our ultimate destination is beyond these earthly things.
“Be careful not to be deceived”, says Jesus to his disciples, while he announces that history is heading towards a dramatic climax. In fact, we can be misled when we hear that "the time will come when not a stone will be left on a stone". The first misunderstanding is to think that this concerns only the moment of the end of the world. Not so: everything we see will come to an end. All things must end, and this is not some kind of injustice: rather it is to be expected given what we know of the world and of salvation. Our final destination is not in this world; our goal is ahead.

All the tribulations we experience can become the road to salvation if we remain with Christ
But it is easy for us to be deceived about the end things. Jesus says: "When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be terrified, because these things must happen first, but it is not the end immediately." And when is the end? That is not the issue. "By your perseverance you will save your life." Salvation, this is the goal. And human history is the story of salvation. Whatever happens - earthquakes, famines, pestilences, persecutions and betrayals – they are never what they seem. If we remain on the side of Christ, these events are nothing more than the prelude to one of his works. They become, by faith, the road to salvation.

We were not born for comfort or pleasure, but for love, and love involves sacrifice and the cross. That is why tribulations are necessary if we are to live the life of love.
Of course, it is natural to be perplexed and it is completely normal to ask oneself: but why must this be the way? Why is it necessary to go through these tribulations? If we were born for comfort, for fulfilment, for the pleasure of understanding everything and possessing everything we desire, all these discourses would be absurd. But we are born for love, and that is another thing altogether. The cross of Christ is not an accident along the way, but the true face of God. In order for God to reveal himself as a Father of mercy, His blessed Son had to show the nature of their mercy and reveal himself as our Lord, suffering for love in his own body all the evil that man can produce. But this was not the end. It was the road to Heaven. Don Tonino Bello said that the cross is only a temporary location. The end of things, from Christ onwards, is not pain. The tribulation of the world is, to be precise, a labour pain, a giving birth.

We seek salvation without pain, but we cannot grow without the growing pains; we cannot give birth without the pains of labour. If I seek God without the cross then I risk finding a cross without God.
We often deceive ourselves by seeking a salvation that involves no pain, but there is no birth without blood. There is no new life without the loss of the old one. "Many in fact will come in my name saying, ‘It is I’, or ‘The time is near’. Don't follow them!" The comfortable messianic promises are all traps. A young person does not become an adult without going through a purification, a marriage does not become authentic without going through tribulation, a friendship does not become real without forgiveness. It takes these things to recognize what is valid and what can be trusted. If I seek God without the cross then I run the risk finding a cross without God. This Gospel passage leads us to authentic life, a life that is beautiful precisely because it is not simple, a life that is nourished by authentic challenges. This life experiences salvation over and over again, between consolations and tribulations.

Friday, 8 November 2019

GOSPEL: Luke 20, 27-38
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio

Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading ...

(Check us out on Facebook – Sunday Gospel Reflection)

GOSPEL: Luke 20, 27-38
Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection,
came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying,
"Teacher, Moses wrote for us,
If someone's brother dies leaving a wife but no child,
his brother must take the wife
and raise up descendants for his brother.

Now there were seven brothers;
the first married a woman but died childless.
Then the second and the third married her,
and likewise all the seven died childless.
Finally the woman also died.
Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?
For all seven had been married to her."
Jesus said to them,
"The children of this age marry and remarry;
but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age
and to the resurrection of the dead
neither marry nor are given in marriage.
They can no longer die, for they are like angels;
and they are the children of God
because they are the ones who will rise.
That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush,
when he called out 'Lord, '
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;
and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Kieran’s summary . . . The Sadducees did not believe in the 
resurrection of the dead. They prepare a trap for Jesus by 
presenting him with the case of a woman who marries and 
becomes widowed seven times in succession. Which of them
 will be her husband in eternity? For the Sadducees, this case
 proves the absurdity of the resurrection of the dead. Jesus 
dismisses this scenario with a single line! But how are we to
 understand his answer? First, let us note that the difference 
between Jesus and the Sadducees is profound and fundamental.
 They were of a pragmatic and worldly mind-set, not believing
 in eternity nor in the invisible. But, if we think about it, 
neither did they believe in love! In order to believe in love, 
we must believe in the eternal. I will love my spouse and my
 children profoundly only if I appreciate their full dignity, a
 dignity which goes beyond the here and now, a dignity which 
endures to eternal life. In order to lay down my life for 
someone else, I must believe that this life is not the be-all 
and the end-all. Belief in the resurrection is the foundation 
of my belief in the great dignity of the human person. But 
what does Jesus say to the Sadducees? Is he telling them 
that marriage has no importance in heaven? No! In fact, 
he is saying the opposite. It is only in the light of heaven
 that marriage on earth makes sense. If marriage is only 
something earthly, if it is something that I do for my own 
narrow interests, then it will never endure. If I marry my
 spouse just to make myself feel good, then I will soon want 
to get rid of her when things are not going so well. Jesus makes
 a distinction between the children of the Kingdom of Heaven 
and the children of this age. For the children of heaven, 
marriage is a vocation that leads to the Father, through all 
of its joys and tribulations. Marriage is not to be understood
 with silly paradoxes like that posed by the Sadducees. It is a
 sacrament, a mystery that leads us into union with God. The
 same is true of other things in life. It is only from the 
perspective of the eternal, the perspective of the resurrection, 
that things attain their true meaning.

True love is linked to our belief in the resurrection. It is because we believe in the eternity of the person, of his fundamental dignity, that we are led to love and respect others in the fullest sense.
In the Gospel of this Sunday an absurd case is presented to Jesus, that of a woman who marries and becomes widowed seven times, having married in turn all of her husband's brothers. The Sadducees use this paradox to pose the question of which of the brothers will have her as a wife in the afterlife. In their eyes, the paradox reveals the absurdity of faith in the resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees, in fact, did not believe in eternal life. It was a classic question that led nowhere, but Jesus refuses to fall into the trap. It is worth noting that the Sadducees will be the ones who will send Jesus to his death. They belonged to a pragmatic mind-set that did not believe in eternity and had no openness to the invisible. This is the real problem between Jesus and the Sadducees. To believe in love itself it is essential to believe in the resurrection. True love, of the unconditional sort, makes no sense for those who do not believe in eternity. If I want to love someone in a complete way, I need to be free from anxieties about the future. In order to love, I must be able to die to myself. I must be free from the compulsion of defending myself and my current mode existence. In order to feel alive I must be open to eternity. How can we have children if we think that the future is ultimately nothing? How can we do good or take care of others if we do not see the great dignity that is written in the human person?

Is Jesus telling us that marriage is not important? That it is only for this life? No! He is saying the opposite! Marriage only has sense when we see it as being oriented to God and to eternal life.
Jesus alludes to all of this with his paradoxical answer to the Sadducees: "The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age
and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise
”. Is Jesus saying that we shouldn't get married? That is not the point. Jesus makes a distinction between the children of this world (with their goals and strategies) and the children of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is one matter to marry for worldly reasons and another matter to marry to enter into God's plan. Marriage is a vocation that leads to heaven. It gives us the graces and tribulations that allow me to reach the Father. If a marriage is entered just to make me "feel good", it is doomed to failure. I will soon want rid of my spouse when I get tired of him or her, or if they make me suffer. I won't understand that there is something much bigger and wider that needs to be accepted even in difficulties. Those who live for the resurrection are like angels, Jesus tells us. An angel is a messenger, a person with a mission. Marriage is a mission, a sacrament. If we lose this perspective, it will not be surprising if we get bogged down in paradoxes. No one can understand the profound meaning of marriage unless it is deeply open to the Kingdom of Heaven. Marriage is for heaven; it is orientated towards God; it is because of this that it cannot be taken away by death. And this is true not only for marriage. Everything makes sense only if it is the path to eternal life. Otherwise it is a dead end.

Find us on facebook

Sunday Gospel Reflection