Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(2 Maccabees 7:1-2,9-14; Psalm 17:1,5-6,8,15; 2 Thessalonians 2: 16-3:5; Luke 20:27-38)
Living in “this age” while awaiting “the Coming Age”
He is not God of the dead, but of the living. (Luke 20:38)
The Gospels are filled with accounts of how Jesus’ enemies tried to trap him instead of believing in him. This is especially true in chapter twenty of Luke’s Gospel. First, some Pharisees questioned Jesus’ authority to cleanse the Temple and to teach in it (Luke 20:1-8). Later, they sent surrogates to ask Jesus about taxation (20:20-26).
Then comes today’s Gospel reading, which tells how some Sadducees tried to ensnare Jesus in a trap of their own devising. They tell a story about a woman who has been married and widowed seven times. But they’re not really interested in Jesus’ views on marriage. They just want to get him to admit that there is no resurrection after death. But Jesus elevates the conversation by making a distinction between “this age” and “the coming age” (Luke 20:34, 35).
“This age” is God’s wonderful and good creation—a good world darkened by the shadows of sin and temptation. Scripture calls it a “present evil age” (Galatians 1:4) under the influence of Satan, the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31). By contrast, “the coming age” is heaven.
Now, the gospel teaches us that Jesus has set us free from the shadows of “this age,” but our freedom is closely linked to the choices we make. The devil is always on the prowl, trying to trap us. But God wants to protect us from these traps and teach us how to resist them so that Satan will flee (James 4:7). Jesus taught that there is indeed a resurrection after death. He taught that those who “are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age” will rise at the end.
Let’s not be duped like Jesus’ enemies, who were always trying to tell him what was right and wrong. Instead, let’s be open to his word and his work in our lives. That’s the best way to live in this present age—with our eyes on the age to come.
“Jesus, you have set us free. As I live in ‘this age,’ please help me keep my sights on ‘that age,’ which is to come.”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Questions for Reflection/Disucssion
- The Book of Maccabees tells the moving story of seven brothers and their mother who suffered torture and death rather than disobey one of God’s laws. Their courage came from their belief that “the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.” In what way does your belief in the resurrection of believers to eternal life give you courage to stand up for your faith?
- The responsorial psalm presents us with an unshakeable faith that God will hear us when we cry out to him in a time of need. We also have the image of God hiding us in the shadow of his “wings”. During the day how often do you turn to God your Father or Jesus when facing difficulties? What steps can you take during the day to remind yourself to turn to him, even if it is for a few seconds?
- In the second reading, St. Paul promises the Thessalonians that God will “encourage,” “strengthen,” “guard,” and “direct” them, no matter what the circumstances. How do you stay strong in your faith and these promises of God when facing tough situations? Can you give an example from your own life when God did indeed encourage, strengthen, guard, and direct you in the midst of a difficult trial?
- In the Gospel reading, the Sadducees, who do not believe in an afterlife, pose a story to Jesus to trap him. Jesus, of course, confounds them with the clarity of his answer regarding heaven and the resurrection of the dead. What do you think heaven will be like? Do you believe that through prayer and Scripture reading, you can gain some insights from God on the nature of heaven?
- The Gospel and the meditation describe the differences between “this age” and “the coming age.” How would you describe these differences? What steps can you take to remind yourself daily that God’s plan, and the real purpose for your life, is to spend eternity with him in “the coming age”?
- In the meditation, we hear these words: “Now, the gospel teaches us that Jesus has set us free from the shadows of ‘this age,’ but our freedom is closely linked to the choices we make. The devil is always on the prowl, trying to trap us. But God wants to protect us from these traps and teach us how to resist them so that Satan will flee (James 4:7).” What are the ways you allow God to “protect” you and “teach” you? What additional steps can you take to “be open to his word and his work” in your life?
- Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord for the grace to keep “our eyes on the age to come” and not just on “this age.” Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point.