My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
It is great to be with you!
We are co-workers together in this great mission of evangelization, sharing the love of Jesus Christ with the people of our time.
And as you know, in your ministries you are at the “front lines” of the Church. Bringing up and making real the Church mission in our culture. And you know better than most that we are living in times when many people, especially our young people, are confused about the meaning of their lives, especially about how to find true happiness.
So my dear brothers and sisters, this is your mission — this is our mission — to help people to meet Jesus and to discover God’s love and God’s plan for their lives. To really strive for true happiness.
That’s what the readings we have just heard are talking about — the beautiful truth of our lives.
In the passage of the Gospel, it’s interesting because it’s kind of a crazy test that the Sadducees put to Jesus in today’s passage of Gospel. They ask him, as we just heard: seven brothers marry the same woman, who will she be married to in heaven? And of course it is obvious to all of us that they are trying to challenge the resurrection of the dead because they don’t believe in it.
But it’s beautiful to see that Jesus doesn’t fall into their trap. Instead, he uses this conversation to reminds us that death is not the end of life, death is only the beginning.
Jesus tells us today that we are “children of God.” And that when we die — we “will rise.” He tells us that our God is not “God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
We know that everybody dies — it’s going to happen to all of us. That’s the reality and yet, we live in a culture that tries to deny this reality.
In the Bible it says that the “fear of death” keeps us in slavery, that this fear is what keeps us from really living like God wants us to live.2
And that’s interesting because that’s also the story of the king that we heard in the first reading today. As we heard, the king is in bed, he is sick with grief. Why? Then as we heard: “He was struck with fear and very much shaken … for he knew he was going to die.”
This is the human condition. And again, that is what Jesus is talking about in the Gospel. He is telling us that we should not be afraid of death — because he has overcome death.
In his love, Jesus came to share our human life, and he shared every aspect of our human condition. He experienced all the beauty and goodness of our lives — laughter and friendship, love and family, joy and worship. But he also shared in our sorrow and suffering. And finally, he shared even the experience of death.
Jesus walked that lonesome valley, he entered what the Scriptures call “the valley of the shadow of death.3 He did this for us, for you and for me. Because he rose from the dead, we know that we can rise!
My dear brothers and sisters, this is the great truth of the Gospel. Jesus sets us free from the power of death, from the fear of death. He sets us free to really live! To really love!
If we follow Jesus in this life, we can live forever with him in the next life.
And this is the truth that we are called to proclaim in our ministries. But as you know, in faith, we face a challenge talking about heaven or the afterlife in our culture.
It is true, we live in a secular age, when people think they can live without God. And we live also in a materialistic society. And that doesn’t mean just that we are concentrated on material things. On a deeper level, it means that we don’t really believe in things that we cannot see or that we cannot “prove” with our science.
Like Jesus talks about angels today in the Gospel. But we can’t see the angels. And we can’t see what happens after people die. We can’t see, physically, heaven. So that’s why people sometimes start to think we only have this one life to live. And that’s a challenge for us,
And that’s why I think it would be great if each one of us, as we think of the mission that God has given to us, we should start to thinking of ourselves as “ministers for eternity.” We need to talk about heaven more. We need to tell people the good news that God loves us so much that he wants us to live forever with him in heaven.
And we need to proclaim this in the way that we live. Not only by our words, but especially by our witness. People need to see that we have faith and that we believe that life is going to be complete when we receive the reward to go to heaven.
So no, it is really the time, for all of us, to really live what we believe. We need to live with joy and confidence, like people who really know Jesus! Like people who know that we are children of God and that our life has a purpose and a direction, that we are on our way to heaven!
There’s a beautiful example of Blessed Miguel Pro. It is a beautiful example for all of us.
But my dear brothers and sisters, today, let us ask for the grace to be really dedicated to be missionaries for eternity. That God gives us the strength that we need to follow Jesus. to have a personal relationship with him — in our prayer and our love for him, especially in the Eucharist, which is our promise of heaven. Yes, we are called to eternal happiness in heaven.
And let us commit ourselves again to sharing in his mission, in the mission of Our Lord Jesus Christ, telling people the good news, that our God is the God of the living and that we are made for heaven, for life everlasting.
Let’s ask Mary our Blessed Mother for her intercession. Our Lady of the Angels — ask her to intercede for each one of us, especially as we prepare to bring to the people the beautiful news of the love of God that helps us to really love one another in our daily lives.