Do you believe, really believe, in life after death?
Do you believe, really believe, that there is a heaven and a hell?
In both the first reading from the Old Testament and in the Gospel, we have tremendous testimony of the existence of life after death and of heaven and hell.
The belief of the young men in the first reading was so strong that they were willing to endure torture and death.
They were confident that a happier life awaited them, if they were loyal to God and obeyed His commandments.
They even amazed their torturers with their faith and willingness to endure death for their beliefs.
In the Gospel, Jesus gives us one of the best glimpses of life after death.
He says that we will become like angels, spiritual beings, in complete happiness with God.
He again reminds us in a very subtle way, actually with saying it, that the ways of God are not human ways.
He hints that we should not place human understandings on the Divine.
Our relationship in heaven will be with God and only because we are one with God will we be united with each other.
This is a rather difficult theological point, but we need only accept the word of Jesus on it.
Some years ago the singer, Peggy Lee, had a hit entitled, “Is That All There Is?”
The lyrics basically claimed that if this life were all there is, we are in big trouble.
With all the problems of the past weeks beginning with September 11th, this faith that there is a better life awaiting us can be a great consolation.
In this life we all experience pain and suffering. We all have problems with relationships, with our health, with the loss of a loved one, with financial problems; the list can go on and on.
None of us can claim the perfect life and we all know that there is only one common end to life here.
You may be able to even avoid taxes, but no one avoids death.
So, if that’s all there is, it would be a pretty dismal life.
But because of the gift of Faith – We know better.
We know that…if we keep faith, if we follow Christ, the ultimate victory will be ours.
How else can we cope with times and problems such as we have recently experienced?
How else can we cope with the uncertainties of life after September 11th we and our children must now live with?
We are a people of Hope. . .
Our Hope in the promise of a God who loves us so very much that he took on our humanity and our sinfulness and purchased our redemption by dying on a cross.
If that is not a testimony to His love and concern for us, what is?
It was the ultimate act, in a human context, to prove to us His love.
What must we do to deserve, even in a small way, this love and promise of everlasting happiness with God?
Jesus put it in very simply when He said, “Love God with your whole being and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Keep these commandments and we will have our reward in heaven. Jesus promises it.
But its not just a one way contract.
Jesus promises us new life, but we have to keep our end of the agreement.
We have to try to live a life deserving of that life everlasting.
We have to keep Faith. We have to be a people of Hope, and We have to live this life so as to encourage others to live the life Christ wants us to live . . . As people of Faith, and Hope, and Love.
In this time of national tragedy and trial, let us be a people of hope.
In this time of transition in our parish and region… let us be people of Faith – who trust in the work of the Holy Spirit and in the goodness of each other.
For it is through our living as people of Faith and Hope and Love others may know…that this life is NOT…ALL there is.