The Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
2 Macc 7:1-2,9-14 + 2 Thes 2:16—3:5 + Lk 20:27-38
November 6, 2016
“‘…He is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him all are alive.’”
We might take for granted what we profess in the Creed when we say that we believe in “the resurrection from the dead”. But in the time of Jesus, this was a hotly debated question. Certainly Christians believe in the Resurrection of Jesus, the celebration of which is the most important Sunday of the year. But what about the resurrection of each believing Christian? Why is this future event important, and what does it tell us about living a life of faith in the present moment?
When we are baptized we become children of God. A child is by nature like his parents, and so when we are baptized we become like God our heavenly Father, who adopts us through the grace of Baptism. We do not literally become gods, of course: in philosophical terms, we do not become gods substantially.
In the Eastern Churches the term “divinization” is used to describe the believing Christian’s growing participation in the life of God. Any such authentic growth is growth in Christ. In Christ, the believing Christian grows to resemble that divine brother of ours whose words we listen to in the Gospel, and whose life we receive in the Eucharist.
God’s nature is love. Therefore, the Christian process of divinization is a growth in love. It’s not a transformation from being human into being love, but rather, growth of the human being into an all-loving human being.
The Scriptures make clear to us, however, what love truly is. God’s love is not only an emotion, but is a willed choice. God’s love is a choice made to offer Himself to others. Within the Trinity, the Father eternally offers Himself to His only-begotten Son, and the Son eternally offers Himself to His Father. This mutual love of the Father and Son for each other is the divine person whose name is the Holy Spirit.
But God does not limit His love to His own divine Godhead. He wills to love creation. He loves each of His adopted children, including in our sinfulness. He loved us enough to send His Son to be our Redeemer, through whose grace we can imitate God’s life of willed love. Saint Paul prays that God will strengthen the Thessalonians “in every good deed and word.” All of these deeds and words must be offered in love, and for love, in order for them to be authentic.
Ultimately, the greatest love is to offer one’s life for one’s friends. This is the love that we are invited to receive worthily in the Eucharist. This is the love that children of God are called to choose in their daily lives. But we should never forget that we are also children of the resurrection. Every sacrifice we make bears fruit not only in this life, but also in the world to come.