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2 Maccabees 7:1-2 9-14, 2Thesalonians 2:16- 3:5, Luke 20, 27-38

1. In a quote from the 1963 Vatican II Document Gaudium et Spes No. 43 (whose 50th year we are celebrating), it spoke to the problem of Catholics living the faith. It said, the “split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age.” Now in 2013, when those same words are said about today, the words ‘serious error’ could said as ‘GRAVE ERROR’ . This SPLIT today manifests itself to a point where Catholics openly step all over the teachings and still claim to be Catholic. That document again and our readings present to us an abiding TRUTH; that having faith in God and Jesus, obliges us more than ever to measure up to the duties that are proper to our Catholic faith. Today if we say ‘we believe’ we must answer some tough questions: From… *Maccabees: Are you ready to or will you DIE for your Faith? *Paul’s Thessalonian Letter: Since the way of discipleship is HARD, will you seek the grace to PERSERVERE in your (Catholic) faith, and BEG God to grace others as well? *And from Luke, will you make the effort to KNOW and TRUST the truth of EVERY teaching and mystery of our Faith?

2. The 1st Book of Maccabees in essentially a historical reading of a war and persecutions on the 2nd century BC Jewish people, to eradicate their religion. The 2nd book of Maccabees from which our reading comes, gives many INSPIRING sermons and EDIFYING stories designed to keep the Jewish people STRONG in their Jewish faith. A INSPIRING story today centers around the persecutors who hoped to accomplish that goal, by forcing 7 loyal Jewish brothers to EAT PORK, a food forbidden by the law of Moses. Those brothers chose to die rather than violate God’s law. The persecutors turned up the heat, by having their mother present. They thought that her love for them and her anguish at seeing them tortured would move her to beg them to give in and save their lives. Instead, she encouraged them to ‘STAY TRUE’ in bearing their tortures. She was martyred last of all.

3. St. Paul was a man of God and one full of human understanding. He knew and appreciated the difficulties that the Thessalonian converts from paganism to Christianity had to endure. He was ever ready to help them. He tells them that he is begging God, to console and strengthen them so that they may PERSEVERE in living their faith. He then asks for their prayers. Prayers not for personal needs, but that the Gospel. The prayer request is that the word of the Lord, might make PROGRESS, might REACH more and more people.

4. In our Gospel, the Sadducees were a ‘Party’ of believers, from the time of the Maccabees. They held political and theological views not generally accepted by the Pharisees or ordinary people. Today the article of faith in question was about the resurrection of the dead. They came to our Lord with, what they thought was, a case that would make the doctrine of the resurrection look very RIDICULOUS. It would have appeared so, if we were to understand it in the crude sense which they gave it. Namely, that at the Resurrection, we will RISE from the grave in the very same bodies which we now have, with all their needs and instincts. Jesus corrected that erroneous idea and TAUGHT the truth. The TRUTH is, we are going to rise to a new and eternal life, in a form and an existence that is very different from that of our present life. Thus, the question of ownership of wives or property will not, and cannot, arise in our new life. Jesus ALSO included a BRIEF but BASIC description of what marriage is all about. Jesus alludes to there being no marriage in heaven. Marriage here on earth is for spiritual and physical purposes; Salvation of souls and propagation of more souls. We should all want to know a lot more about what our future state in Heaven OR Hell will be like. Yet if we knew all, where then would our FREEDOM, FAITH and TRUST in God come in?

5. It would be very hard to give a SURE answer to the question ‘will I willingly accept torture and death for the sake of my faith’. The SPLIT comes from the question WE CAN and MUST give an answer to: ‘Do I willingly and truly live my Catholic faith in my daily life’? No martyr ever died for the faith unless he firmly believed and lived his daily life in accordance with its teachings. And for the Church it is a serious (every day) concern and a false picture of what TRUTH is, when the Church Teaches one thing and many, MANY of its members live it or teach it another way. The Teaching Authority and Weighty Insight of Jesus’ Church CANNOT be casually cast aside! Like Paul, the church knows living out many of the Tenants of our faith is hard. That’s why Mother Church encourages us to PRAY, receive the SACRAMENTS and come together on Sundays and other ways to SUPPORT each other. We were obligated in 1963 and now in 2013, to form a right conscience on all moral concerns. Like the increased pervasiveness of Secularism and Materialism in our society, like the right use of our financial resources, like the religious education of children and adults, especially on all the marriage and sexuality issues. Our morality and actions must flow out of Church Teachings. Today, the most important thing you can do is to PRAY for yourself, to PRAY for each other, so that we can receive the GRACE to PERSEVERE. Our life must be seen as inspiring, our story as edifying. It is a GREVIOUS ERROR to SPLIT your faith! That is to profess it one way and then to live it another.