Homily from the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year C
Our readings today correspond with the fact that we’re coming to the end of the liturgical year. In just a couple of weeks, we’ll begin a new liturgical year with the First Sunday of Advent. And as we come to the end of this year, we hear about the last things: such as death, the resurrection and life in the Kingdom of Heaven. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us some very interesting things about the life we have to look forward to in the Kingdom.
Jesus tells the Sadducees, you’ve got it all wrong. “The children of this age marry and remarry…” But for those who are resurrected, “they neither marry nor are given in marriage.”
So Jesus is telling us, there is no marriage between husbands and wives in Heaven. Why? Why would such a beautiful union not exist in the Kingdom of God? The reason is this: We have marriage, here on earth, “in order to form a more perfect union” if you will, in Heaven.
Our destiny, if and when we reach the Kingdom of Heaven, is perfect union with God, and all the Saints, and one another. So, God has given us the institution and Sacrament of Marriage, to get us ready for that union. It’s God saying to husbands and wives, “I want you to get ready for union with me, by entering into union with one another as husband and wife.”
The vocation of marriage, the union of man and woman, is a sign that points to our union with God. It’s like a sign we see on the side of the road as we’re driving to our vacation destination that reads “Florida – 500 Miles.” We’re not there yet, but we’re on our way.
Now there’s another vocation that points to the union that awaits us in Heaven: the vocation of celibacy; the vocation of priesthood and the religious life and the dedicated single life. Those who are called by God, and voluntarily choose, to forego marriage as a sign of their dedication to God.
Jesus talked about this vocation too. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says there are those who voluntarily forego marriage, “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” And since, as Jesus says, there is no marriage in Heaven, these celibate people, reveal what life will be like in Heaven.
Marriage is a life of exclusive love: between one man and one woman as husband and wife.
Celibacy is a life of inclusive love in which the priest, the sister or the brother imitates the life of Christ who gave his entire life and love, not just to one, but to all.
The celibate man or woman lives today, here on Earth, how we will all live one day in Heaven. And, to continue my analogy from earlier: if the vocation of marriage is a sign of our future union in Heaven, like a sign that says “Florida – 500 miles”, then celibacy is like a Floridian who is living right here in Indiana. The celibate man or woman: the priest, sister, brother or dedicated single person, says, “I want to be a living example right now, here on Earth, of what citizenship in Heaven will be like.” A life and a love given to all.
Tonight, our teens will get to meet a number of these “Floridians living in Indiana.” The Franciscan Brothers Minor and Franciscan Sisters Minor of Fort Wayne and the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration of Mishawaka will be here to talk about their vocations as celibates for the kingdom of heaven. And I encourage every one of our teens to come back to St. Vincent’s tonight at 5, to learn about their lives.
If these two vocations, the vocation of marriage and the celibate vocation, are preparations for our life in Heaven, we, who have discerned our vocations, have to ask ourselves: what is the “state of our unions”? How do my spouse and I prepare each other for union with God?
And if you are still discerning which of these two vocations God is calling you to, you have to ask yourself: how am I living today in preparation for my future spouse?