Popes Trip to Spain; Our Trip to Heaven
User’s Guide to Sunday
By Tom and April Hoopes
Sunday, Nov. 7, is the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, Cycle II).
On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Santiago de Compostela to celebrate the Holy Year there. Every time St. James’ feast day lands on a Sunday, the cathedral that houses his remains in Galicia, Spain, celebrates a Holy Year. To preview the trip, search for “Santiago de Compostela Catholic” on YouTube. “Rome Reports” shares images and details of the papal visit.
Here’s the Pope’s schedule for this weekend’s trip:
8:30am, Saturday, Nov. 6: Pope Benedict XVI departs Rome.
11:30am: The Pope arrives at Santiago de Compostela and meets with the Prince and Princess of Asturias.
1pm: Benedict visits the cathedral of Santiago and greets the faithful there.
1:40pm: The Holy Father will have lunch with Spanish cardinals and members of the executive committee of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference.
4:30pm: Mass in the city’s Plaza de Obradoiro.
9:15pm: The Holy Father will depart by plane from Santiago de Compostela and fly to Barcelona.
9:30am on Sunday, Nov. 7: Pope Benedict will have a private meeting with the king and queen of Spain in the Museum Hall of Barcelona’s Church of the Holy Family.
10am: The Holy Father will preside at Mass, during which he will consecrate the Church of the Holy Family and the altar. Following the Mass he will pray the Angelus in the church square.
5:15pm: After lunches and meetings with the bishops’ conference, Spain will say farewell to the Pope before he departs for Rome.
2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14; Psalm 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5; Luke 20:27-38 or 20:27, 34-38
Today’s readings are good for the weekend after Election Day.
The first reading is about the Maccabee brothers, who face persecution by the Syrian authorities. They have fought bravely for the religious freedom of the Hebrews, but are defeated. In defeat, they
don’t hesitate to switch from battling for temporal justice to battling for eternal glory.
The way they saw it, they had just fought the good fight to change their country, but the point was never the politics. The point was to gain what a just society offers: the opportunity to seek things of eternal value.
Jesus in the Gospel applies the same sort of lesson to family life. He proposes a tragic hypothetical — a string of deaths has made a woman the wife of a string of brothers. Whose wife will she be at the resurrection? Jesus explains that in heaven our earthly marriages don’t have the same significance they have on earth. Instead, we are in a new state — “like angels” — in which we live attached to God alone.
That needn’t sound like a strange existence. We already know from the Gospels:
1. Jesus most often compares heaven to a wedding banquet: a giant celebration;
2. The risen Christ carries on with relationships he established before his death, and
3. The resurrected Jesus even eats food.
According to the Gospels, heaven isn’t an unnatural place. It’s the place we were made for. And that means that the sadness and tragedy of this life that seems to dominate reality should be put in perspective. Like the Maccabee brothers, we can endure the sufferings of this life knowing they are just a preparation for a more significant eternal existence. Like the wife in the Gospel, we can live through this life’s tumult and arrive to a place where one love conquers all others.
So, after Nov. 2, if you’re ecstatic about the election results or disappointed by this or that race, here are some lessons to take away from today’s Mass.
1. Politics isn’t everything.
Don’t get us wrong. We are keenly aware of how important it is to fight for just laws, just as the Maccabees did. But Jesus didn’t come and solve this world’s problems here and now. He came to bring the cross, the only way to heaven.
Christ didn’t become the political ruler of Israel. Instead, he invited his disciples to build the Church. Christ didn’t crush the Roman Empire like a warrior messiah. Instead, he invited his disciples to take it on from within — through martyrdom. We are all Maccabees now.
2. Your marriage isn’t the place to look for your ultimate happiness.
Marriage and family life is crucially important. It is the vocation for most of us, and God raised it to the level of a sacrament to show its importance. But if we decide that our marriage is going to be the exclusive vehicle for our fulfillment and happiness, we are destined to be disappointed.
Ultimately, marriage, like the other sacraments, is a sign and source of grace that comes from elsewhere: the grace of our Father in heaven. It’s not in the sacraments themselves that we find ultimate happiness, but in the one who is present in them: Christ.
Our marriage won’t deliver the happiness we long for. But if we live it properly, it will lead us to the One who will.
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas,
where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.