For God All Are Alive-Life and Love after Death: Reflections 32nd Sunday in OT, 11/6/2016
A dear friend and member of our church lost her most beloved sister a short while ago. Her grief was so profound that I cried with her as she shared it with me. Two sisters living far from their homeland representing home for each other although both are married with families and living in different States. Only this sister holds her earliest history and has loved her this long as her parents are also with God. Sisters and best friends now parted. Unimaginable grief. Despite her strong belief in the living Christ and in resurrection, my friend is much bereaved. She will miss her sister who died suddenly and that sudden loss is the greatest pain. She must mourn even though her beliefs that her sister lives with our loving God are very strong. But slowly, she claims her sister’s love that is always with her and that her sister lives forever with Love as she herself does now and forever. Her sister is close to her and she is comforted. Love comforts her. Life after life helps her to continue on. From Love she finds the strength for life.
As I reflect on the readings for this week, especially the Gospel, Luke 20: 27-38, where the Saducees who do not believe in resurrection try to make Jesus look bad by presenting a ridiculous situation in what they consider a ridiculous notion-life after life. Jesus is near his own death and is firm in this knowledge. Jesus once again rises above a political trap and speaks truth that it is not easy to understand. Basically he says that there is resurrection-death is not the end. He says that we cannot really grasp and understand the kind of life we will have after we die, but “God is not the God of the dead but of the living, and to God “all are alive.”
This reflection by Fr. John Foley of St. Louis University says what I believe better than I can say it and it is similar to the way I comforted my friend who lost her sister and all who lose and anticipate loss of their dearly loved ones. I draw comfort and hope in this. (The italics and emphasis are mine).
Life After Death-This is part of Fr. Foley’s Homily:
John J. Foley SJ liturgy.slu.edu/32OrdC110616/reflections_foley.htmal
“Our God is God of life, the Gospel says; “to him all are alive,” even the dead! How could this be? Because God keeps love safe.
Yes. Real love is the rich earth that nurtures great trees. Roots dig deep down in the soil for nourishment and moisture. Their green selves grow out of the earth—and notice something obvious: the earth does not grow out of them! Their life and our lives are rooted in the rich loam of love. Life grows out of love, not visa versa.
It is difficult to say the last sentence correctly. Let me try again. Love is a force much deeper than life. When life ceases, love stays. It becomes the home, the embracing arms that enfold us. Love is the substance, life is the outgrowth.
So the “place” dead persons go, leaving their bodies behind, is into the heart of love, into the arms of God who is love.
Here is how the poet Hopkins put it:
Hither then, last or first,
To hero of Calvary, Christ’s feet—
Never ask if meaning it, wanting it, warned of it—men go.*
Christ’s feet are where you and I will be, honoring the perfect fullness of love he achieved. Oh yes, we have to release our tight grip on the treasures we hoard, things we might be grasping instead of love.
If you and I have a hard time “meaning it and wanting it” during our lives, even so, we are still folded into the luxuriant soil of God’s love. Sometimes we refuse it, of course, and then our roots dry out in the sun. But Love forgives us and invites us and helps us back.
It is hard to talk about, but worth it.”
John Foley, SJ
I am glad that Fr. John Foley did not choose the other readings of the day or other aspects of the readings to reflect on-for this is the heart of it, now and forever. AMEN.
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP
Life grows out of the rich soil of God’s love, and returns to it…Living on in Love.