Year A: 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Second Reading: Thessalonians 4: 13-18
Todayís Second Reading is another of the happy coincidences where the continuous reading from one of the letters reflects something of the theme of the Gospel - in this case the Second Coming.
The first letter to the Thessalonians was written in about 50 AD at a time when everyone expected Jesus to return very soon. The belief was that those who believed would be alive to receive Him - but, as time passed, the believers died - either of natural causes or through persecution. There was an anxiety about what had happened to those who had died - and what would happen to them when Jesus returned.
St Paul is keen to reassure the Christians that they have nothing to fear for their loved ones who have died. Yes, there is grief - but it is not the same grief as that of those who have no hope of eternal life.
Those who have died have followed the path that Jesus took. He did not short-cut the journey through death to resurrection - He really died - and so has opened that path to those who follow.
Not only that, He has opened the way to eternal life and God will raise those who have died in Jesus to the new life He won for them.
St Paul goes even further and says that those who are left alive are not especially favoured and will not have any advantage over those who have died. Quite the reverse. Those who have died in faith will have precedence and it is only when they have been received into glory that those still alive will be welcomed home.
Death remains the great frontier - and we grieve for those we love who have died. St Paulís words can offer us comfort. It is wholly natural to mourn and miss those we love - but we do not do this in despair. We are in pain because we miss them. However, St Paul promises that one day, we will see them rise again - and, in our turn, join them in the Kingdom God had prepared for us from the foundation of the world.
What does it mean for me?
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