Luke 20:27-38
Know, Love, and Serve God
by Rev. Jack Peterson, YA
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"

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Luke writes to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.

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 out 'Lord', the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and his is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."

Some years ago, I read the book, "Good to Great,"  by John Collins.  He helped lead a team of business of analysts do a study of companies that were successful over the long haul.  They were trying to answer the question, "Why some companies make the leap to greatness and others do not?"  One clear reality that stood out among the study group members was that all of the good-to-great companies had a "Hedgehog" concept, a simple clear understanding of who they are and what they are doing.  It is not a goal, a strategy or a plan, but an understanding.  The good-to-great companies were able to translate that understanding into a simple, crystalline concept.

Christianity has a Hedgehog concept:  "God put us on this earth to know, to love and to serve him and so to come to paradise" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1721).  The most important concepts in life need to be stated and restated.  Not all of us have embraced this understanding of our existence and make it a focal point for our lives.  Even for those who have, it is incredibly easy to get distanced by smaller goals in our lives and countless other demands that are urgent but not critical in the long run.  We can get so caught up in the significant efforts required to get through the day that we gradually lose sight of the most important reality - to know, love and serve God on this earth in preparation for being welcomed by him into the joys of eternal life for all eternity.

As we approach the end of the church's calendar year with the solemnity of Christ the King Nov. 20, the church invites us to ponder the end of time and all that will happen when Jesus comes again.  Heaven and hell are two of those realities that we ponder.

This Sunday, the church invites us to ponder the tremendous gift of heaven.  When Jesus walked this earth, not all Jews believed in eternal life.  The idea of life after death as a fulfillment of this present life is a very late development in Judaism.  The idea of a blessed afterlife began to be revealed in the Scriptures only a few hundred years before Christ.  The Sadducees, a leading branch of Jewish scholars at the time of Jesus, did not believe in heaven.  They are the ones who test Christ in the Gospel today with the quandary of the woman who marries seven times.  Whose wife will she be in heaven?

Jesus proceeds to strongly assert the reality and blessing of heaven.  "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 are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise."

For human beings, heaven is the pinnacle of God's gifts to us.  It is the privilege and blessing of being drawn up by God into his very life and love for the duration of eternity.  There we shall gaze upon the very face of God, being both overwhelmed by his beauty and captivated by his piercing gaze, filled with such love.  There, we shall be like God because we shall be completely cleansed of all sin and every vestige of sin.  We will be united to God with a love that is completely purified of all selfishness.  As we learn from St. Paul, we will come to know the fulfillment, of all our deepest desires: 'What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not even entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him" (Cor2:9).  In other words, we can't imagine or comprehend the blessings God will bestow upon us in heaven.

As we approach the end of the church's year, I have a few questions for you.  Do you live with an understanding that you are a precious child of God and that your life on earth is but a short prelude to your life in heaven? Are you exclusively focused on your life on earth or are you striving to store up treasures in heaven?  Are you making progress in your efforts to know, love and serve God on earth in preparation for the gift of being received into God's eternal embrace?

 

As we approach the end of the churchís year, I have a few questions for you. Do you live with an understanding that you are a precious child of God and that your life on earth is but a short prelude to your life in heaven? Are you exclusively focused on your life on earth or are you striving to store up treasures in heaven? Are you making progress in your efforts to know, love and serve God on earth in preparation for the gift of being received into Godís eternal embrace?