Breaking Open the Word
By James Cavanagh
Nov. 7: 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. the Greek Empire was divided into three kingdoms. The territory that included Israel was ruled by a vicious tyrant named Antiochus IV Ephiphanes who tried to eradicate the Jewish religion. The first reading is part of a story about seven brothers who died gruesome deaths rather than betray their faith. They courageously defied the king because of their unshakeable belief in God and hope in the resurrection.
St. Paul wrote two letters to the church in Thessalonica. They were written to encourage the faithful during a time of persecution. In this week’s second reading Paul points to Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, the source of “everlasting encouragement and good hope.” Although belief in the resurrection was held by many Jews in the first century some, like the Sadducees, did not.
The Sadducees were priests of the Temple and members of the ruling class. They relied strictly on the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, which they believed said nothing about the resurrection. Jesus’ reply is all the more significant because it comes from that part of the Bible that the Sadducees recognized.
“Catechism of the Catholic Church”:
Pope Benedict XVI:
James Cavanagh is director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-Area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. For information on subscribing to "Breaking Open the Word, click here. For archives click here.