32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

    When I was in middle school, I prided myself on asking my theology teachers the most obscure questions possible. I would ask questions like can God create a rock so big that He can’t throw it, or its sister question, can God create a burrito so spicy He can’t eat it? While these questions may sound like very deep theological questions which were trying to lead to a deeper understanding of an infinite God, at their core these kinds of questions completely missed the point and demonstrated that I didn’t even understand the basics of our faith.

     At that point in my life, my faith was still in its beginning stages and I saw it as nothing more than just another set of rules. For many of us there can be a tendency to turn the Catholic faith into a game. We can easily fall into the trap of reducing our faith to learning and following a set of rules in hopes of winning the game. Yet when we fall into this deadly trap we completely miss the point.

     The Sadducees in today’s Gospel tried to pull Jesus into this trap by making up a ridiculous story about a woman who had been married to 7 different husbands after the previous ones had died which lead to the question about who the woman belonged to in heaven. In asking this theoretical question they demonstrate that they had forgotten the basics of faith, namely the truth that we are not made for this earth, but for heaven. Friends, it can be very easy for us to become like the Sadducees and get so wound up in our theoretical questions that we forget that our daily actions in this life have consequences that span into eternity.

     Jesus saw the trap they had laid for Him and built a bridge over it to bring them back to reality by reminding them that this life is fleeting. Living as Christians in this world we need to raise our eyes from gazing at the ground in front of us and begin to look heavenward. Ultimately today’s Gospel challenges each of us to check our orientation. Are we so focused on this world, that we have lost sight of our eternal destiny or just as dangerously are we so focused on the life to come that we fail to consider our obligations in this life? With our eternal destiny at stake, there simply isn’t time to play games. We need to keep our sights firmly focused on heaven and our feet firmly rooted in this earth because there is no such thing as a sin in this life that doesn’t matter, nor is their an act of love that is so small it has no positive consequence.

     You see the Sadducees were so focused on this earth that they failed to recognize that they were depriving the woman of her human dignity by categorizing her as a piece of property. So often in our lives when we lose focus we end up not only harming our relationship with God, but also damaging our relationships with others because “true devotion is characterized by both love of God and love of neighbor. The two cannot be separated without serious distortion.”[1]

     If we want to live lives that reflect our love of God and of our neighbor then we need to ensure that our lives remain focused upwards to heaven and not downwards caught up in earthly affairs. Perhaps a great way to determine which way our lives are oriented is to honestly ask ourselves how and who we love. After all “all vices have one root in common, namely, the disordered love of self, opposed to love of good and especially of the sovereign good which is God”[2]

     The lesson of today’s Gospel is clear; if we want to truly live our Christian faith, we can’t waste time on trivial matters and must set all of our energies to live the truth in love. “In order to truly listen to what is true, we need to desire to love what is true, and in the case of Christianity, to love who is the truth, Jesus Christ.”[3] After all “love without truth would be blind; truth without love would be like a clanging symbol”[4]

     So what is our orientation? Do we have our sights fixed on heaven or like the Sadducees are our sights caught up in the trivial matters of this world?

[1] Ralph Martin. The Fulfillment of All Desire. Steubenville: Emmaus Road Publishing. (2006) Pg 106

[2] Reginald Garrigou-LeGrange O.P. Everlasting Life. Rockford: Tan Publishing.(1952). Pg 19

[3] James  Keating. Listening for Truth.Praying Our Way to Virtue. Liguori: Liguori Press. (2002). Pg 95

[4] Cardinal Robert Sarah. God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith with Nicolas Dias San Francisco: Ignatius (2015) Pg 181

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