Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I 2nd Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14
Psalm 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15
Reading II 2nd Thessalonians 2:16, 3:5
Gospel Luke 20:27-38
What does it mean to be alive? Are you and I alive this morning? We can go through the motions here. We can sing and we can listen. But are we alive? Do we know that God lives within us and nothing can separate us from God. But the real questions is: How do you and I stay alive? How do we let the world around us, and the people around us, encourage us to make the most of every moment? That’s why you and I are baptized. That’s why we come here for Eucharist. That’s why we want to break open the word of God so that we never slack, but are always on the cutting edge of life. And that means from the moment we are conceived and nurtured in the wombs of our moms, life continues on until the moment God says, “I now want you to come and see my face.” In between, a lot of things happen. We always say, “Life just happens.”
Last night Jean and Rita Esselman from our parish celebrated their 65 years of marriage. Their children came. Out of eight children who were born in a twenty-year time period, one has already gone home to heaven. Their other son is a Vincentian priest over in Africa so he could not fly home to be here for the anniversary. The other six kids got up and shared a memory of their childhood and why their Mom and Dad have always been the center of their lives for 65 years. It’s just interesting. You and I are nothing unless we realize what we mean to each other as family, and that’s why in families we remember all the crazy things that happen. But deep down in our hearts, what we remember the most is the everlasting love of Mom and Dad and that they were always there for us.
As children we don’t always realize what our parents went through. They had a good way of hiding it so we would be happy. But as we grew up, they did sacrifice. They made life worth living and because of that we know that there is a God. We see Don Holtschlag come here to Mass, when it would be much easier for him to stay home. But he is here every Sunday. He has witnessed in the last few years the loss his wife, his son-in-law, and his daughter. But he still comes every Sunday to Mass because there is something that goes on here that he needs, and he needs us, but we need him.
Life makes the difference. Jesus says, “Don’t focus on death. Death is going to take you to the newness of life.” Right now if I were to ask you, “Are you absolutely disgusted with the election,” I am sure everybody’s hand would go up. But you know something, it doesn’t make any difference who is elected as president, governor, senator, mayor, or congressman — it doesn’t make any difference. Because once they are elected the people of God within this country, or this state, or this city will hold that person accountable. Once someone is elected, he or she cannot pull away and sit in an ivory tower. The person who is elected must serve, and it is up to the people being served to call on that person to bring forth his or her very, very best gifts.
That’s why is so important that we vote, even if we are frustrated. We live in the greatest nation in the free world and God says, “Wake up, people. You’ve got everything. Don’t blow it. You’ve got one of the best health care systems in the world and the best educational system in the world — private, public, whatever.” If we choose to seek out the negative we choose to die spiritually and morally. But if we know there is a God, and that is what Jesus talked about in the Gospel today, that is what is important. In the Gospel reading he tells about the seven brothers because in Scripture seven is the perfect number. Jesus would not let the Sadducees trick him. He said to them, “You people don’t think there is anything after life. Then why do you stay alive? But if there is something beyond life, then live everyday to the fullest.” Never let anything get you down and when you are down always remember, you have your family, you have your friends and, most of all, you and I have God. That is what makes the difference.
So this morning let’s ask ourselves this question: What really matters in my life? And what really matters is that I live my life to the fullest. And what really matters is that each one of you live your life to the fullest. Everyone sitting here: You all have a gift you haven’t used yet. And if we turn to one another and ask, “How do you see me?” What comes back to us in the answer may not be what we are expecting. We don’t see everything in ourselves that’s taking place and that’s why we rub off on each other. A total stranger can rub off on you and totally make your day.
“Who was that you just talked to?”
I have no idea but he changed my life.
This morning we are coming here because there is One who can change our lives and let us live our lives to the very best of our ability. So as you and I receive the body and blood of Jesus it’s not because he died, it’s because he rose from the dead and he is giving us everlasting life — that is the answer. There is no greater gift. So when you walk out of church this morning, just pause and look up at this beautiful day and say, “Thanks, God. Thanks for all that you give me. Thanks for my family. Thanks for those who accept me as I am. Thanks for giving me every single day to find out just how wonderfully made — I am.”
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.
(TASCAM DR 40 Disc C 007)