This weekend we celebrate the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today’s Gospel passage reflects some of Jesus’ teaching about the afterlife. His comments flow from a question posed to him from the Sadducees, those who have no belief in the resurrection. They ask him about spousal relationships after death, especially if one spouse dies and the other remarries (a number of times). Jesus basically tells them that spousal relationships do not matter at the resurrection of the dead, because no one dies any longer, so there is no need for marriage or re-marriage. As for us, in heaven, we are all united in Christ through our common baptism. God is the God of the living. When we are raised to new life, we celebrate that resurrected life together with Christ Jesus and all the saints. Yes, we know that our relationships do not unravel with death, and that we will be reunited with our loved ones. There will be no question as to who is first or last in God’s eyes, nor who is first or last in the line of one’s spouses. Marriage (the Sacrament of Matrimony) is the outward sign of God’s unconditional love for his people. Bride and groom, husband and wife, witness to that great love. In heaven, there is no need of our witness to that because Christ is present before our eyes, and no more do we need signs to reveal his love and presence. These last Sundays before Advent begins, the Church has us reflect upon the end times and our readiness to meet the Lord when he comes again in glory. Many of us find ourselves imagining what heaven is like, especially when we have lost a loved one in death. That is only natural. This week we might choose to reflect upon the questions we have about eternal life. And at the same time, let us ask ourselves how prepared we are to meet the Lord when he comes to take us home, because we do not know the day nor the hour.
I am writing this week’s article the very day I returned from Rome with all who took part in the Diocesan Jubilee of Mercy Pilgrimage with Bishop Cistone. Among those who participated were: Father Jim, Father Richard, Father John (a friend of Bishop Cistone), Carol Wade (a member of Saint John Paul II Parish), Deacon Gary (from Pinconning), several individuals throughout the diocese, as well as individuals from other dioceses. It was a most grace-filled ten days! There were many highlights which I will share with you in the coming weeks. However, the first I would like to mention is the procession to the Basilica of Saint Peter on Saturday, October 29 and walking through the holy door. Bishop Cistone gave a beautiful homily on how we enter the holy doors (a sign and reminder of God’s heart that is an open door, always ready to embrace the weary, the downtrodden, the sinner, the one seeking God’s embrace and mercy). We were asked to reflect upon all that we carried in our hearts, not just ourselves, but those very near and dear to us as we entered the holy doors. We were once again reminded to express our gratitude to God for his great mercy to us, and commit ourselves to extending that same compassion, love, and mercy to all whom we encounter. Bishop reminded us of a prayer we used to say and prayed it with us: Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto thine. What a joy and privilege it was to be able to walk through the holy door of the basilica of Saint Peter’s and feel the unconditional love of God. The second highlight which was most special was kneeling in the chapel where Saint John Paul II is buried and spending time in prayer for our parish. The picture of that chapel is below.
Please see the bulletin for important upcoming events: Gathering for Parents and families of children ages 4 and younger, Remembrance of the Dead Liturgy, and the parish Thanksgiving Dinner.
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ