—-Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
THE GOD OF THE LIVING
At a time when the first persecutions of the Church had begun, the Book of Revelation speaks of the killing by evil forces of those who witness with their lives. But like the dried-up bones in Ezekiel, the martyrs will be raised to life and go to heaven.
“God is the God of the living,” says Jesus. He calls back to life those who die; death is overcome since Jesus rose from the dead. The witnesses of the first reading are put to death by the mighty of this earth because they contest the abuse of power, but God raises them up. The resurrection is the core of our faith, not only as a promise to live on in God’s joy after death but already now as a power of building up one another in human dignity, justice, peace, and serving love. We cannot die for ever, because God cannot stop loving us.
God, source and purpose of all life, you have committed yourself to us with a love that never ends. Give us the indestructible hope that you have prepared for us a life and a happiness beyond the powers of death. May this firm hope to sustain us to find joy in life and to face its difficulties and challenges resolutely and fearlessly, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
1 Reading: Revelation 11:4-12
I, John, heard a voice from heaven speak to me: Here are my two witnesses: These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. If anyone wants to harm them, fire comes out of their mouths and devours their enemies. In this way, anyone wanting to harm them is sure to be slain. They have the power to close up the sky so that no rain can fall during the time of their prophesying. They also have power to turn water into blood and to afflict the earth with any plague as often as they wish. When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the abyss will wage war against them and conquer them and kill them. Their corpses will lie in the main street of the great city, which has the symbolic names “Sodom” and “Egypt,” where indeed their Lord was crucified. Those from every people, tribe, tongue, and nation will gaze on their corpses for three and a half days, and they will not allow their corpses to be buried. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and be glad and exchange gifts because these two prophets tormented the inhabitants of the earth. But after the three and a half days, a breath of life from God entered them. When they stood on their feet, great fear fell on those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven say to them, “Come up here.” So they went up to heaven in a cloud as their enemies looked on.
Responsorial Psalm PS 144:1, 2, 9-10
R. (1b) Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war. R.
My mercy and my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer, My shield, in whom I trust, who subdues my people under me. R.
O God, I will sing a new song to you; with a ten stringed lyre I will chant your praise, You who give victory to kings, and deliver David, your servant from the evil sword. R.
Alleluia 2 Timothy1:10
R. Alleluia, alleluia. Our Saviour Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life to light through the Gospel. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Luke 20:27-40
Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying, “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 descendants for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. Finally, the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.” Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to 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 the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him, all are alive.” Some of the scribes said in reply, “Teacher, you have answered well.” And they no longer dared to ask him anything.
The two witnesses of this passage are symbolically referred to as olive trees and lampstands, imagery drawn from the Book of Zechariah. Rather than being identified with any concrete individuals, they are best seen as sources of life and light before God. In the spirit of the prophets of old, they have the power to close the sky or to change water into blood. A period of desolation comes upon them with the emergence of the great beast, the symbol of evil, here synonymous with pagan Rome. The beast succeeds in conquering and killing the prophets, whose corpses are left exposed in the city of evil for three and a half days. The prophets are then restored to life and called to the heavenly realm.
The Sadducees in today’s Gospel are guilty of too literal an interpretation of the scriptures. To understand the Book of Revelation we have to capture and interpret biblical symbols. What is clear from today’s reading is that evil will have its day, but good will eventually triumph. The prophetic voice may be silenced for a while, but the truth will eventually win. We should never be discouraged to the extent that evil is seen as victorious. The scriptures consistently assure us that Christ will have the final word.
– That we may keep up the good fight against all that is deadly to the Christian life: dehumanizing kinds of labor, suppression of freedom, paralyzing fear, lack of love, and compassion, we pray:
– That all suffering and dying people may share in our resurrection faith and find strength in the knowledge that God loves them in life and beyond death, we pray:
– That our beloved dead may live on in the life they gave us, in the faith they passed on to us and in the good we do, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
God of the living, in these signs of bread and wine we celebrate the memory of Jesus, your Son. He died for us, but he is now alive here among us as our risen Lord. Strengthen us with his body and blood and give us great respect for our own body in which we hope to rise one day. Like your Son, may we use it to serve and love and thank you and to reach out to our neighbour by the power of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
God of the living, you want us to live even beyond death as fully human and complete persons, and yet totally transformed by your love that makes us your daughters and sons. Give us the quiet but firm faith that life is meaningful and worthwhile and that death is not the end but the beginning of a new way of living. May this certainty encourages us to share our hope with those to whom life makes little sense. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen!
We are people of hope and joy, for Christ is risen. We are sure that we too shall rise with him one day. This is why our hope in God’s love and life is indestructible. May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!