Gospel Reflections

32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Luke 20:27-38

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Tess Rynn

Published: November 10, 2019

Read 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... Read More…


For many of us, the desire to be in control is very strong. We like certainties – to know where we are going and the various stages along the way. This idea of certainty is what we come across in today‘s Gospel. The Sadducees, unlike the Pharisees, accepted only belief in the Torah and rejected any oral tradition, so they didn’t believe in the Resurrection. However, they still wanted to question Jesus about the Resurrection – how contrary we all are! They wanted to know, after death, who would claim the wife who had seven husbands. This, of course, was a trick question for Jesus, because whatever answer he gave, he would certainly alienate some.

In response, Jesus speaks with authority indicating that the question is really irrelevant. Marriage, as such, will not exist in the afterlife -- the events of this world do not just translate into the next, as a natural progression. Jesus speaks of a totally different set of values.  

As we reflect on this passage we too are faced with the reality of an afterlife. We try to get our heads round the idea of time after death, but we really have no means to do that. Our finite brain can only deal with the finite. We are trying to comprehend the incomprehensible. This of course is not the whole truth. We are so much more than we can comprehend. I am drawn into a whole spectrum of my being which defies, nor does it need to have, any human explanation. That ‘other’ of who I am, is a lived experience, with the mystical reality of the God in whom ‘I live and move and have my being.’

But we do have life experiences which in some small way prepare us for that final ‘letting go.’ We all know the pain of ‘endings.’ Who has not felt the pain of bereavements of every kind, the ending of a relationship, the end of active ministry, closures of communities, health issues leading to diminishments — all reminders that ‘we have not here an abiding city.’ These surely are invitations to allow Jesus to accompany me, with courage and a deep peace which comes from accepting life as it is and not as I would like it to be. In the ‘letting go’ I know Resurrection --- the two are one. As I write, the year too is dying around me, in a blaze of Autumn colours – to die, to sleep and rise again in a coming Spring.

In this month of November we are invited to remember in love and gratitude those who have gone before us. I have had the privilege of being at many death beds – each one unique. Never is that ‘other’ part of me more present than in those moments before someone leaves this world. There is a sacredness in the last breath, as the veil of the unknown is slightly parted. In that mystical moment of death all is changed, the essence of that person is elsewhere. We are consoled in knowing that those who have died are with us in a totally different way. There is ‘presence’ in ‘absence.’

Within the last couple of weeks three significant people in my life have died. When death touches us personally amongst the many reactions and emotions which surface, we are again reminded of our own mortality. It is the one reality I am absolutely sure of ! It is an invitation to recognise this truth with a deep sense of peace and indeed joy. It is in recognising my own mortality that I learn to appreciate life now, in all its richness, that I learn to live with gratefulness and enthusiasm receiving each day as gift.

Like, Mary Oliver, I don’t want to come to the end with regrets and disappointments.
 “I don’t want to live my life ‘only having visited this world.’”
Instead I would want to hear the words of Jesus;
“I have come that you may have life and have it to the full “
 
Reflection
Remember someone who was a significant part of your life. What ‘gift ‘did that person leave for you?
Use it today!

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