Wednesday, November 6, 2013

32nd Sunday in OT (C) - Now and Forever

Luke 20: 27, 34-38
November 10, 2013

Some Sadducees -- those who argue that there is no resurrection -- approached him and they put this question to him, 'Master, Moses prescribed for us, if a man's married brother dies childless, the man must marry the widow to raise up children for his brother. Well then, there were seven brothers; the first, having married a wife, died childless. The second and then the third married the widow. And the same with all seven, they died leaving no children. Finally the woman herself died. Now, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be, since she had been married to all seven?' Jesus replied, 'The children of this world take wives and husbands, but 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 children of God. And Moses himself implies that the dead rise again, in the passage about the bush where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is God, not of the dead, but of the living; for to him everyone is alive.'

REFLECTION: Now and Forever

We could very well classify people into two groups: the "Now" group and the "Forever" group.

People in the "Now" group tend to live colorful lives, intent on living the dream but don't care much about the imminent future.  For many among them, they believe that we have one chance at life and we need to make the most of it.  Quality of life is centered mainly on the present since the next life, if it is to be believed, appears to be too distant, if not outright hazy.  Much is placed on faith, however, the human condition has somehow made us rely on experiences to be able to successfully achieve something and at the same time, have something to show for it.

The "Forever" group is intent on winning the prize at the end of the race but oftentimes without regard to how it is achieved.  They somehow live in a trance-like wonder often oblivious to the world and indifferent towards people around them who may not be similarly inclined to share in their fastidiousness to that future state. Their concept of forever is often not anchored in the now, for the current world is a world of suffering and its path runs towards the very valley of emptiness, pain and ultimately death.  Life for them is but a temporary reality.

Human as we are, we normally miss the entire picture by failing to focus on a tiny yet sublime fact:  "Now" is not meant to be taken alone when there is a future to speak of; while "Forever" is not meant merely to be aspired for since how we achieve it is directly dependent on how we fare in our current lives: "Now and Forever" is a coordinated truth.  Jesus gives a "now" dimension to the phrase "eternal life" (which we usually categorize as "future" or "forever") in His high priestly prayer: "This is eternal life: that they should know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom you have sent." (John 17:3).  It seems that Jesus is saying that eternal life is a matter of relationship with the Father –– something that will be fully realized in the future, but that has its beginnings in our lives now. Death should never be made a chasm that separates now from forever, body from the spirit, sinner from the Creator, for He is not a God of the dead but of the living.  Since Christ already had won victory over death; the death knell merely signals the end of the race on the one hand, but trumpets the attainment of the much-hoped for bliss, on the other.

"Now and Forever" is never easy, no wonder very few subscribe to it as a single, unifying truth.  People would rather consider it an "Either/Or" rather than an "And" to make believing in it much more bearable.  Many are ridiculed for believing in that truth.  Seemingly, "Now and Forever" is an ideal that has largely been passé, especially at an age when promises are broken, when wicked deeds triumph over good, when temporal matters appear more significant than the eternal.  I believe it is to this end that the Church normally ends its prayer to which we all say "Amen."  Bridging “Now and Forever” requires the triumvirate of the great virtues that exist now and last forever: faith, hope and love –– Hope refreshes the everydayness of living; Faith strengthens our conviction that what we aim to achieve will come to pass; Love makes it all worthwhile.

Understanding the interplay of “Now and Forever” somehow clarifies Christ's promise to be with us all the time.  Forever is happening now; Forever ceases to be a distant reward to the deserving with death as a necessary gateway.  Christ's resurrection has unified "now" with "forever" by removing death's sting; with Him conquering death, there is absolutely nothing that could conquer us.  That no matter how we get wounded now by our own sinfulness or bogged down by the realities of life, we're never conquered forever: 

Sorting through the wreckage of broken dreams and daring to dream again, says: "I’m not conquered."
Throwing aside the jagged edges from failures on the path I now walk, says: "I’m not conquered."
Not being afraid to risk again whether in life, love or business, says: "I’m not conquered."
To give even when you feel all used up, says: "I’m not conquered."
Forgiving and letting go, says: "I’m not conquered."
Opening the heart to love again after pieces were broken and missing, says: "I’m not conquered."
Staring at fear and still going through the fire, says: "I’m not conquered."
To feel worthy after bouts of feeling worthless and despite the doubts, says: "I’m not conquered."
Having faith and holding on in the darkest hours, says: "I’m not conquered."

For to God, all are and forever.


MR. JOEL R. GABRIEL is a member of the Filii Sancti Dominici Philippinensis


Ordinary Time, Cycle C, OP Filii, Now, Forever, Resurrection

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