Homily - 32nd Sunday OT Year C - Remembrance Sunday

Remembrance _Poppy

Homily (Sermon) - Remembrance Sunday

The Readings for the twenty seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
2 Maccabees 7:1-2,9-14, Psalm 16, 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5
Luke 20:27-38
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

Today is a sombre day. Today is a sad day. Today is a day to be thankful. Today is a day to remember.
Today is Remembrance Sunday.

It’s almost 100 years since the start of the Great War. The war to end all wars. The problem is it didn’t. The last 100 years have been very bloody indeed.

65 million died in World War I
2 million in The Mexican Revolution
5 million in the Russian Civil War
1 million in the Spanish civil war
72 million in World War II
4.5 million in the Korean War
3 million in Vietnam
3 million in the Nigerian Civil war
2 million in the Afghan Civil War which we are still fighting today
2 million in the Soviet war in Afghanistan
2 million in Iran-Iraq and gulf war
2 million in the Sudanese war
5.4 million in the Second Congo war
I couldn’t find figures for the Libya, Syria

Between 1914 and 1945 war killed around 7% of the population of the world.

Today we remember the 170 million people killed in war in just the last 100 year.
[Numbers taken from Wikipedia]

War is wrong. Taking life is wrong. Yet the men and women we honour today were fighting for me, they gave up their lives so I could be safe. I am grateful that they did that. I feel pride and horror, sad and relieved, thankful and lucky. I have never seen war, I hope I never have too, I wish we could stop all wars and I will continue to pray that one day we can. But until we become a better human race War is with us. And with war comes death. The imagery and the poetry of Remembrance day focuses quite rightly on loss. Lost family. Lost friends. Lost comrades. Lost youth. Lost life.

In contrast then is the imagery and poetry of today’s readings. They are not about loss. They are about gain. The ultimate prise. Resurrection. Life everlasting. Life once more with our loved ones. Eternity experience with God.

In our first reading we hear of the sacrifices of the 7 brothers tortured and killed for their faith. Their faith allowed them to suffer in this life rather than lose their faith and the gift of resurrection. Next time you stick your tongue out at someone, remember the third brother, who lost his tongue, hands and life so he could keep his life with God. This gesture is made with, as St Paul says, “such inexhaustible comfort and such sure hope”. The young man knows his fate, he knows death awaits, he knows the prise is his.

We are capable of understanding so little of the world beyond this world. Of the divine, of the heavenly. We can touch it in the sacraments, we may find it in prayer, it kindles in our hearts, it grows in our actions, our Faith, our sure hope. Then we lose someone, then we feel the loss, then we feel the pain, then we remember what is lost. The pain makes us forget the sure hope, the promise of our Lord, that this life is passing, and next the life is eternal.

In the Gospel today Jesus is challenge by some Sadducees. They were a group of religious Jews who worked in the temple, and they believed that the soul was not immortal. Death would be the end. They tried to prove this with the legalistic argument about the woman married in turn to seven brothers. Their argument was that, there cannot be an afterlife because it can’t possibly work according to the law of Moses. The women was not allowed to have multiple husbands while alive, therefore because she would have multiple husbands in the afterlife, the afterlife can’t possibly exist.

Christ’s answer was that, as children of the resurrection, they are children of God. The life to come will not be like this life, the rules of this life don’t have a place in the next. He didn’t tell them what the next life will be like, I don’t think any of us could understand if he had. But you do know what it’s going to be like, you have felt it in the sacraments, you fleetingly encounter it in prayer, it’s burning tenderly in your heart, it is the sure hope of faith.

Today is a day to remember. Today is a day for “such inexhaustible comfort and such sure hope”, and I hope Laurence Binyon won’t be offended if I add the last line of our psalm to his poem Ode of Remembrance.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam

In justice they shall see your face
And be filled, when they awake, with the sight of your glory.

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