Thirty-Third Week of Year II Saturday, November 19, 2016
The Responsorial (Psalm 144) calls those doing the work of the Lord to trust in the Lord: “Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!”
In Revelation 11: 4-12 the angel promised John that God’s servants would be victorious; not protected.
The two “witnesses” (possibly an allusion to Peter and Paul, martyred in Rome under Nero) had their time of power on earth, but were eventually killed and left unburied — to let “the earth’s inhabitants gloat over them.” But after the “three and a half years” (symbol for any persecution, according to the Jerusalem Bible; cf. Luke 4:25; James 5:17) they “went up to heaven in a cloud as their enemies looked on.” Like Jesus, they were defeated on earth, by the standards of this world, but they triumphed both on earth and in heaven through the aftermath of their death.
God sometimes lets his holy ones exercise something other than purely spiritual power on earth — as Jesus did occasionally, though rarely (see John 18:6; perhaps Luke 4. Healing miracles and casting out demons would be “purely spiritual” power). But usually, like Jesus, they are eventually handed over in weakness to the powerful of this world to suffer and die at their hands.
This may be God’s method of keeping it clear that his way of establishing the reign of God is not the way of earthly power. Jesus did not come to be that kind of messiah (which is why his people, in the name of us all, rejected him). The only power he relied on, or taught his followers to rely on, is the power of truth and love. This is probably the Gospel’s greatest challenge to faith and hope. But those who can accept it proclaim unwaveringly, “Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!”
In Luke 20: 27-40 the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection, asked Jesus which of a woman’s seven husbands would be hers in heaven. What he answered, basically, was, “You don’t have any idea how things will be in heaven.” Everything will be so different that we cannot apply to life there the same limitations we deal with here.
We may think here that certain things are irrevocably lost or damaged. This is to forget what God is. “Nothing is impossible to God.” God gives, not only life but existence itself: nothing exists except in the measure God gives it being. And what God gives, only he can take away.
Jesus says, “All are alive for him.” We add as a consequence, “And can have that ‘life to the full’ that Jesus came to give.” We need to count on that.
As stewards of his kingship, we work to preserve everything and everyone God made. We never give up on anyone. “Blessed be the Lord, our Rock!”
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Find peace in humility and abandonment.