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THE LIFE TO COME
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Sunday, 32nd Sunday of the Year, November 10, 2013
2 Macc. 7:1-2, 9-14, Ps. 16, 2 Thess. 2:16-3:5, Luke 20:27-38


"And Jesus said to them, ‘The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die any more, because they are equal to angles and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection'" (Luke 20:34-36).


Today Jesus teaches us about the life after our death and the life of the sons of the resurrection, saying that "those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage" (Luke 20:35). In other words, marriage is only for this present life. It is a good of this world only and will end when this present life ends. Death is the end of marriage. Marriage will not exist in heaven or in the world of the resurrection. Therefore there will be no problem whatsoever for those who have been married more than once in knowing which of their wives will be their wife in heaven, for in heaven they will have no wife. All those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead will be celibate, even though they may have been married in this present age. In heaven and in the world of the resurrection all will be celibate; that is, they will have a completely undivided heart in their love for God, not divided even by marriage.


Those who are celibate now are signs for all the rest of what heaven will be like. They are signs for the whole Church of its future and final state in the fullness of the kingdom of God. Celibacy is a state of consecration to God with all the love of our heart, with an undivided heart in our love for God. Celibates try to live now the life of the world of the resurrection, focused only on God, not in love with any human being; in love only with God. In this they are even now already like the angels who do not marry and are focused only on God with all the love of their heart. Their life is an angelic life. Indeed, the monastic life has often been called the angelic life, for monks try to live separated from the world, without marriage, only for God.


St. Paul praises the celibate life as a life completely dedicated to God. He says, "The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband" (1 Cor. 7:32-34). The celibate seeks to focus all his love only on the Lord, and not divide the love of his heart with a human spouse.


Celibacy is an anticipation of the world of the resurrection, where we will be concerned only about the Lord and how to please him. This is how all who make it to the world of the resurrection will be, and celibates live this way already by way of anticipation. They have more silence and solitude in their life for prayer and contemplation. They have an intimate nuptial relationship with the Lord that excludes and forbids a human spouse. All the love of their heart goes only and directly to God. They are "eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it" (Matt. 19:12). "All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given" (Matt. 19:11 NKJV).


Celibacy is a state of life for this present age and for the life to come; but marriage is a state of life only for this present life, not for the life to come. It ends with death. It will no longer exist in the life to come or in the world of the resurrection.

 


It is good to meditate on the life to come. It inspires us to live better in the present, to be more focused on God in all we do, in every aspect of our life. St. Peter tells us, "Gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:13). We should try to live more and more recollected like this. "The end of all things is at hand; therefore keep sane and sober for your prayers" (1 Pet. 4:7). "Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire!" (2 Pet. 3:11-12).


We live for this final day. It is the end and goal of our present life and should be the final focus of all our activity, in which we try to better prepare ourselves and our world for this final day of meeting with God. May we be holy and prepared when he comes with power on the clouds of heaven with all his saints in great light. May we go out to welcome him with hearts prepared, and may we do all we can to prepare ourselves and our world for this great meeting, for this great day. May the Lord "establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints" (1 Thess. 3:13). We long for this day now. May our longing prepare and purify our hearts as we look forward with eager expectation for his coming. And "may the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5:23).


Longing for the Parousia has a great effect on the quality of our present life. It gives us desires for holy things and for a holy way of life, far from the profanity and noise of the world and of the pleasures of a worldly life. It gives us desires to be enveloped in the enchantment of the kingdom of God that is coming into the world, and it gives us the desire to see its fullness when Christ returns in all his glory on the clouds of heaven with all his saints in great light. Meditating on the Parousia gives us desires to live a holy life with hearts prepared to receive him with joy when he comes.

 

 

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