A Crisis of Faith

Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
•2 Mc 7:1-2, 9-14
•Ps 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15
•2 Thess 2:16-3:5
•Lk 20:27-38

By Marc Massery

In the Gospel reading this weekend, Jesus is approached by the Sadducees, a Jewish sect who enjoyed their place in the upper echelons of society. Though the Sadducees accepted the Law of Moses, they claimed that they couldn’t find sufficient evidence in it to believe in life after death.  

To try to prove Jesus’ belief in the Resurrection wrong, they question Him about marriage in the afterlife. According to the Law, if a man died without children, his brother must marry his widow. So they said, “Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. … Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?” (Lk 20:29-33). 

Jesus responds by explaining that there is no marriage in Heaven just as there is no death. Then He addresses their lack of belief in the afterlife directly. Knowing that the Sadducees take the Law of Moses seriously, through it, Jesus proves that there must be a Resurrection. 

Jesus says, “That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush,when he called out 'Lord, 'the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive” (Lk 20:34). 

The Lord meets the Sadducees on their ground. He proves that Moses must have believed in the Resurrection in simple language, with proof familiar to them. 

Today, more and more people in our culture do not believe in the Resurrection, albeit for different reasons than the Sadducees. According to the Pew Research Center, people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular” is at 26 percent, up from 17 percent in 2009. 

What can we as Christians do in the face of an ever more secularized culture? 

First, we need to tend to our own spiritual lives. If we steep ourselves in prayer, the Sacraments, and works of mercy, we’ll be in a good place to share the mercy of God to unbelievers when we have the chance.

Second, we should pray for opportunities to evangelize. We’re not in this alone. The Lord wants us to spread His Word, and if we pray for more chances to share His love with others, He will give them to us. 

Third, like the Lord, we need to meet unbelievers on their ground. There’s little use in quoting Scripture to prove the existence of God to today's unbelievers. We can, however, appeal to reason — to natural truth, goodness, and beauty. Despite what unbelievers think, their worldview contains many inconsistencies. We need to be patient and humble when we talk to them, knowing we have the truth on our side. 

Finally, perhaps more important than anything else, we need to pray and offer sacrifices for those who don’t believe. As Jesus says to St. Faustina in her Diary, “You are not living for yourself but for souls, and other souls will profit from your sufferings. Your prolonged suffering will give them the light and strength to accept My will” (Diary, 67). 

Jesus didn’t stop at teaching the Sadducees about God. He suffered and died on the Cross for them, too. Every day, every moment, we have an opportunity to unite our sufferings to Christ’s for the sake of souls. Are you willing to suffer for them like the Lord?

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