Scripture: 1st Reading: 1Maccabees6,1-13; Resp. Psalm: Ps9,2-4,6,16,19; Gosp. Accl.: 2Tim1,10; Gospel: Lk20,27-40
Anyone who wields power would normally think of himself as invincible, untouchable, master of people's destiny and controller of their affairs, who can do whatever he wills and get away with it. The person in power thinks of the trappings of power, the means at his disposal to mass control the people and these lead him to lose his head that he begins to rationalize and justify apparently evil actions as good.
People in power need a lot of wisdom to realize that human power and authority are terminal, limited and transitory, no matter how long any one wields it. When one in power begins to act and dominate others without thinking of the lessons of history and recognizing the transient nature of all that he holds on to, his great fall may actually be closer at hand than imagined.
Antiochus was motivated by greed. He wanted the wealth of other nations. Having succeeded in subjugating nations, Antiochus became ruled by pride. Owing to his successes, he forgot that one who desires to remain successful must continue to strategize so as to be able to lead the pack and stay steps ahead of the enemy.
Antiochus also failed to recognize one salient lesson: that he was able to subjugate the chosen people because Yahweh chose him as the instrument for their punishment on account of their sins. He did not understand that immediately the people turned from their iniquity, the weight of their punishment would be lifted and there would be a reversal of fortune.
Antiochus also failed to realize that he would have to pay for his desecration of the temple dedicated to Yahweh. In the height of his powers, he marched on Jerusalem, sackaged and plundered the temple, destroyed the inhabitants of Judah without good reason, committed abominable sacrilege with the holy things dedicated to Yahweh's worship. It took strings of reversals add defeat in battle for this proud man to eventually understand that the evil he did at the height of his powers was finally upon him and that he would pay for his sins.
Leaders who behave foolishly in power probably think and believe that life ends here on earth and that there is no hereafter. If they believe that the consequences of their actions here would be paid for in full in the hereafter, they would probably act differently in their handling of human affairs. This is why our Lord's teaching on the resurrection in today's gospel passage should be taken to heart.
The point was whether those who die have a hereafter in which they can marry, take wife or husband, and continue from where they left it. Our Lord categorically affirmed the reality of the hereafter, however negating the continuation of the marriage institution in the world to come. This is because these who attain "to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection."
The word of God therefore speaks to us today to consider our ways. It calls us to recognize that nothing here on earth is permanent. It reminds us of the fact that we will be called to render an account for our actions and inactions. It challenges us to realize that there will be the resurrection of the just at the end of this mortal life and that we should strive to be among the chosen that day.
Let us pray: O God our loving Father, we praise and thank you for the wonder of our being. We thank you for the word. Give us your grace to recognize that everything here is terminal and our time limited. Make us wise to use the opportunities you have given us well. Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.