Those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead. (Luke 20:35) To attain to the coming age: the age of immortal happiness and peace.
Jesus conquered death and mounted on high, to the Kingdom of heaven. He made eternal life our destiny, also. By ‘the coming age,’ the Lord means that a life without suffering and death awaits us. It’s right around the corner. It could begin anytime. We pray with childlike hope that we will indeed attain ‘the coming age;’ we pray that the Lord, in His mercy, will deem us worthy.
As we read at Sunday’s Holy Mass, the Sadducees practiced a cynicism that we might find familiar—a 21st-century-type cynicism.
The Son of God came to Jerusalem to reveal the beautiful meaning of life, and the Sadducees carped and criticized Him for it. Christ spoke the truth about the heavenly Father, and the Sadducees played word games with Him. They basically said, “Whatever. Go rant about your dreamings somewhere else, visionary! Around here, we only pay attention when you show us the money.”
The Sadducees’ cynicism darkened the holy city profoundly. After all, they were the priests. They had the duty of standing at the altar and offering sacrifice to the powerful God Who had liberated the nation from slavery. The sweet smell of the lambs they burnt filled the air of Jerusalem.
So if any particular group of men in the city should have had room in their hearts for Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom of God; if any professional association should have had the imagination to envision an age to come, free of death and sorrow… you figure that would be the priests, whose business was God. If a street vendor grows cynical, that’s one thing. A cynical lawyer we can understand. But cynical priests? Yuck.
Not that priests should fall into facile naiveté, either. All of us have to approach life practically, realistically—at least with one eye. We have to have one eye that is purely practical. Then we focus the other eye on the glorious age to come. The world as we know it will pass away. But we do need to keep the lights on and pay our bills in the meantime.
At St. Andrew’s in Roanoke, we have been discussing “Taking the Next Step” in financial commitment to the parish. We all tried to figure out what percentage of income we regularly put into the offertory basket, and then find a way to take it up a notch. The big moment comes when you write in your offertory pledge. Speaking of priests—it is a priestly act to sacrifice a specific amount, on a regular basis, as a gift to the Lord. It’s a sweet-smelling offering. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.
One last thing: I’ve been in the sacred ministry now through four presidential elections. Never before have so many people come to me and asked me, “Father, would you please, please, please tell me how to vote! Just tell me who to vote for!”
Now, we can’t do that. Not because we fear the IRS. But because the act of voting inherently proceeds from the individual citizen’s conscience. Voting means exercising my love for my neighbor, by making a good choice on my ballot. It’s not for the priest to tell people how to vote in an election.
I think we all know what we stand for as Catholics. We insist on the God-given dignity of every human person. We recognize that we human beings need each other to survive, and that we truly thrive only when we work together, and love each other as brothers and sisters. The Catholic Church is a pro-life, pro-immigrant, pro-family Church.
The Lord does not ask us to cast the perfect vote on Tuesday. Jesus Himself will not appear on that ballot. After all, His kingdom is not of this world. What He asks of us is merely this: to give it our best shot—basing our choice on His teachings.