32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2013
This verse resounds throughout the readings for today. We call to mind the courageous woman and her sons in 2 Maccabees who faced death itself and became, instead, indelible witnesses to the power of the living God through the gift of their lives. We see this with clarity on the lips of the fourth son, when he says, "It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up by him..." (2 Maccabees 7:13)
We can see this concept even more deeply in the Gospel, where Luke presents to us the story of the Sadducees who pose a question to Jesus about an eternal life they themselves do not believe in. Jesus responds with a declaration from the dialogue of Moses and the burning bush in the book of Exodus. He says, "Lord, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."
But what does this mean for us? Today's readings challenge us to grow in the virtue of hope. Hope is the "theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1817) The primary way to grow in hope is through prayer. "The prayer of the Church and personal prayer nourish hope in us." (CCC 2657) Hope leads us through the rocky crags that make up our life on earth. Hope strengthens us to stand upright in trial, because here we have no lasting city. Yes, God is the God of the living and has promised to be with us for good and for ill as we walk the path of faith. Our God is a living God who indeed loves us and will be there for us always.