Endurance In Christ
Endurance. Webster defines this word as the ability to withstand hardship or adversity. The seven brothers in the reading from Maccabees had it, the Sadducees in today's Gospel did not. The brothers believed that their God was a God of the living and therefore they believed in resurrection. The Sadducees did not believe in resurrection after death and mocked Jesus with their crazy hypothesis of who the woman would belong to after death.
Taking Webster's definition a bit further, I would say that endurance also implies that those hardships are being born for something greater. We who believe in resurrection know who and what that something greater is; it is Jesus Himself and life with Him for eternity.
Jesus said: "I am the Resurrection and the Life; whoever believes in Me will also live." The Maccabees did not know Jesus, but they knew and believed that faith in the one true God led to eternal life. The Sadducees did not believe Jesus was the Messiah, Son of that same one true God and so it is clear why they did not, could not believe in resurrection.
There are those like the Sadducees in our own time as well. Those who believe that this earthly life is all there is and that when this life ends, it is the end of everything. These same people also have difficulty believing in God and because of this they too lack endurance. There simply isn't anything to endure for except to get from one day to the next. Life lived this way is not really life at all, it is simply existing. A life without faith is one without hope.
Jesus came to give us hope. He came and endured the hardships of life on this earth, and He endured the sufferings of His Passion and death. He rose from the dead so that we may believe in Him and the Father who sent Him~ the God of the living. That faith gives us the hope to believe in His promise that we too will rise and have life everlasting.
As this liturgical year nears its end, the Sunday readings will concentrate more on death and the end times. There are some who find this disturbing or bleak. It is true that we will have to endure trial and tribulation before Our Lord returns, but we who live our faith in Him do not see these end times as bleak. They are merely a passage to the beginning of a better and eternal life.
May the Lord direct our hearts to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ. (see 2Thes2:16~3:5)