The books of Maccabees remind us of how great He is in protecting us from evil. The psalms exhort us to rejoice in His goodness. And in Luke, Jesus reminds us that we are His children. So, when you reflect upon that, you realize how much we’ve got to be thankful for.
Image by Alfonso Cerezo
By Norm McGraw
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It was not only an opportunity for many of us to be with family and friends, but it is also a time to reflect upon the gifts, among them life and love, that God has given us.
The responsorial psalm of Saturday’s readings (Ps. 9:2-3,4 and 6, 16 and 19) makes this point when it states, “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart.”
The two main readings from Saturday’s mass of November 25th also focus on reasons why we should be thankful for God in our lives. In the first reading from the 1st book of the Maccabees, the writer uses the storytelling format to make that point. In the second reading from the gospel from St. Luke (Lk. 20:27-40), Jesus responds to the “trick” question posed by the Sadducees with a clear, straight forward theological answer.
To really understand God’s point in the first reading, we need to know what the 2 Books of the Maccabees are about.
The books recount the history of the Maccabees, leaders of the Jewish rebellion against the Seleucid dynasty from 175 B.C. until 134 B.C. The Seleucid Empire was founded in 312 B.C. by Macedonian general Seleucus I Nicator, following the division of the empire founded by Alexander the Great. So, the dynasty was a Greek power that ruled in Asia Minor during the Hellenistic period.
But no temporal power is greater than an almighty one.
This passage details the Jews overcoming the power of this dynasty whose ruler at the time was King Antiochus: “While he (King Antiochus) was in Persia, a messenger brought him news that the armies sent into the land of Judah had been put to flight; that Lysias had gone at first with a strong army and had been driven back by the children of Israel.” Later in the passage it states, “When the king heard this news, he was struck with fear and very much shaken.” And still later, the king laments: “I now recall the evils I did in Jerusalem, when I carried away all the vessels of gold and silver that were in it, and for no cause gave orders that the inhabitants of Judah be destroyed. I know that this is why these evils have overtaken me, and I am dying, in bitter grief, in a foreign land.”
No temporal power is greater than an almighty one. Or, as the psalm also proclaims, “I will rejoice in your salvation, O Lord.”
The second reading from Luke reveals yet another side of our special relationship with God. With this gospel, it is important to understand that the Pharisees and Sadducees were religious leaders of the Jews at the time. Many Sadducees, as indicated in Luke, did not believe in a resurrection. So, to verbally entrap Jesus, they posed a “resurrection” premise. Using the words of Moses they stated: “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, ‘If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up the descendants for his brother’.” Then they postulated that the woman married seven brothers, each in succession as each brother died, each leaving her childless. Finally, they asked when she died and was resurrected, whose wife would she be?
Answering, Jesus focused our very special relationship with God, not with man. To quote: “The children of this age marry and remarry; for those who are deemed worthy to attain the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are children of God because they are the ones who will rise.” Continuing, Jesus turns the teaching of Moses back on the Sadducees when he states that even Moses understood at the burning of the bush the “Lord” is “not God of the dead, but of the living, for him all are alive.”
Now that we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving and begun the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holiday season, we should take a few moments to think about our relationship with the Almighty. The books of Maccabees remind us of how great He is in protecting us from evil. The psalms exhort us to rejoice in His goodness. And in Luke, Jesus reminds us that we are His children.
So, when you reflect upon that, you realize how much we’ve got to be thankful for.