THIRTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Pursuing an Angelic Life
Christianity is a radical choice, with absolute freedom of the heart and conscience, to submit one’s self to God’s moral authority, to rise and maintain a sense of moral stability above popular consensus even in the heat of adversity. The attack on Christianity today is subtle. The imposition of new-age popular culture supported by individualism and humanism is as if a laser armory unleashed against faith and morals. We are deep into undetected spiritual warfare. The victims are still behaving like onlookers unaware of the destruction, which confronts them.
Illicit practices given legal boost are elusive ways of revisiting Antiochus Epiphanes’ brutal and failed implementation of Hellenism. Antiochus legally forced believers to renounce the Law of God to become willing slaves of impiety (1Mac.1:10-16). We are back into that era. Christians are falling victims of a new form of Hellenism. They becoming willing slaves of impiety. They are sacrificing their souls in exchange for unbridled licentiousness. The notion of the soul is of greater value than the flesh and the world has dissipated (Mk.8:36). Humanity and Christianity are not in a moral quandary.
How can we conscientiously counteract the subtleties of this movement against faith and morals? We have a perfect demonstration of faith and courage displayed in today’s first reading. The seven sons and their mother as illustrated in 2 Maccabees 7:1-2.9-14 must inspire us to rise from our fears and complacencies and allow faith to determine our destiny with God. The actions of the mother and her sons must remind us that there is a greater promise to the afterlife than there is in the flesh and in this present life. We must resolve to become living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God (Rom.12:1-5). Conformity to the world or to the demands of popular consensus or culture is a non-issue when the integrity of the temple of God is at stake. Christianity is a call to become salves of righteousness, not slaves of sin and evil (Rom.6:12-23). I will rather be a slave in heaven, never in hell.
Our status as salves of righteousness enables us to transcend the trivialities of life to embrace the bigger picture and the truthfulness of life in our relationship with God and with Christ. God created us to live with God forever. Nothing we possess in this life, all the relationship we foster, the alliances we form on earth are lasting; they are all-temporary. We must divest ourselves of them at some point to inherit our angelic status with God and Christ in heaven.
The moment we understand this dimension of our Christian vocation we will never surrender our faith and morals for anything earthly. We will endeavour to become slaves of piety in earnest. How? Paul in Ephesians 6:10-20 has a beautiful prescription that will prepare us for this kind of spiritual warfare. If we adhere to his recommendations, we will muster the courage to imitate this mother and her seven sons mentioned in today’s first reading. We will die. We will never surrender to being slaves of unrighteousness. This is Jesus’ concept when he said, “He is God, not of the dead, but of the living (Lk.20:38).”
This type of spiritual warfare requires a deep conviction of faith, a deep spirituality and an arduous approach to prayer and sacrifice. Such is the recommendation put forward by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5. Also, today’s Collect invites us to turn to God asking for protection from all adversity, so that unhindered in mind and body alike, we may peruse in freedom of heart the things that are his.
O God, only with your wisdom at work in us we can choose the things that are your and rise above the things of the flesh.