Trusting in Jesus’ response to the Sadducees
A veteran of the Iraq war shared a traumatic experience with me. His squad’s Humvee had hit an improvised explosive device. They started taking on gunfire as they were exiting the burning vehicle.
When the smoke had cleared, they discovered all were safe but one, his buddy, who later died in his arms.
That experience had left him with many questions, along with unsettling flashbacks. I offered that maybe his memories of the trauma were meant to honor his pal.
Maybe the memory of his death gave meaning to the life of his friend. Maybe it would give meaning to his own life and the power of the resurrection.
Much later, he would relay to me that my suggestion was helpful in reframing his experience and his inner healing.
Death and dying occupy the readings toward the end of the church’s liturgical year. In our first reading this weekend, we hear a cruel story from Maccabees – the story of the seven brothers who are tortured and killed rather than violate the Jewish laws.
Their mother not only suffers the pain of witnessing their martyrdom, but remarkably, becomes their strength. She encourages them to be faithful. (Her story is not included in what we hear in church.) We are left to admire her faith and courage and speculate what she might have been feeling.
The actual witness of a family member or friend passing away touches the heart like no other way. Witnesses to such passing can either find these events haunting or gracing.
People of faith can trust Jesus’ response in today’s Gospel to the Sadducees’ question about the resurrection; "... he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."
Father William L’Heureux is pastor of St. Lawrence Parish in Silver Creek, St. Rose of Lima Parish in Genoa and Ss. Peter and Paul Parish of Krakow.