Still a Time for Mercy
32nd Sunday Ordinary Time
November 6, 2010
“…but for those deemed worthy to attain a place to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage; They can no longer die, for they are like the angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones that will rise.”
from Luke 20:27-38
This Sunday’s teaching by Jesus on the resurrection of the dead springs from something we all recognize: evil people seem at first glace to prosper without penalty, while the good frequently suffer for other people’s mistakes. The current economic crisis we have gone through is an example of this. Many of the financial “wizards” who were responsible for so many of our problems were never prosecuted, while ordinary people, the middle class and the poor, have paid the price. If we believe in God, then it immediately follows that there must be a world to come where justice is done, since it is not always in evidence here.
The good that we do does not always have an immediate reward; while those around us, (who often seem to have no use for God in their lives), can seem to be doing great without him. Of course, this same principle is evidenced in Jesus’ own life! All his miracles, teachings and sacrifices only led him to be crucified by the people he tried to love and serve. But God raised him from the dead. God is not fooled or unobservant: no, he is being patient with us, giving us a human lifespan to correct our lives.
In fact, what we perceive to be “inaction” on God’s part toward people whose actions seem to be quite evil is actually an expression of God’s mercy: he is giving us time to repent. We are now the era of God’s mercy, for as long as we live, God gives us time to turn our lives around. For Catholics, healing is as near as the confessional! It is true that some people do not realize this and go from bad to worse while others are made to suffer, but this situation will not last long. At death, the period of mercy comes to an end and we all must come face to face with the consequences of our actions: how they affected our own lives, how they affected others, and how they looked from God’s point of view. This is why we are called to be people of mercy now: receiving mercy from God by acts of repentance and forgiveness and extending it to others through acts of love, patience and kindness.
Notice that in the gospel that our lord doesn’t just let everybody into heaven at the end! We must be “deemed worthy,” and that means taking advantage of God’s mercy now through faith, repentance, confession, living a life that is pleasing in the sight of God. There is an expression about our Oregon weather that also applies here: if you don’t like the weather, just wait an hour. In the same way, if you wonder when God is going to restore righteousness to his creation, just wait a bit longer, but do take advantage of his mercy while you still can because his justice is right around the corner.