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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Our deepest allegiance is to God

Audio from 11:30 - click here 

November remembers the end before we get to the beginning of all things new in Christ Jesus' Advent, his "coming near" to us.

But for now, as we look to eternity, we see the world fading away.  Leaves die, fall, and trees are left barren.  Light fades, and starting now the sun will set around 5pm every day.  And if we are attentive to it, we can see that the rest of this world passes away as well.  Not just mountains that fall or stars that burn up or other material stuff, but also the immaterial things this world offers us.  Food only satisfies us so long, and a movie or an opera has never kept someone uplifted for weeks.  Not to mention that our bodies do not last forever.  My friend from grade school, Josh, was a good country boy and he died leaving our church on his motorcycle around age 20.  I just heard today that his mom died unexpectedly lastnight.  I can't imagine how the husband and father is feeling, but I know one thing: life is short and we don't know what the end will look like, so we better live today in a way that would make us proud: glorifying God and loving our neighbor for love of Him.
This is what we see in the first reading today.  These boys are put to a shameful death because they refuse to deny their Christian faith.
Lest we think this is only for a distant past, let it be remembered that there are still cases all over the world, especially in the last century, of governments or other groups trying to force people to reject their God, and most often Christians.
One of the newest saints, a young Mexican boy named Jose Sanchez del Rio, 14 years old (an 8th grader).  He was martyred by anti-Catholic government because he was part of the Cristeros movement.
Think also of the 20 Coptic Christians who were executed on a beach last year by ISIL, or Father Jacques in France who was executed this past summer.  They would not reject their faith, would not spit in the face of their God, and for this it cost them their lives, some of them after much torture.

Why do this?  Why endure so much?  Because death is not the end.  Because while this world passes away, our faith holds firm to the truth in the Resurrection.  Jesus Christ changed everything, and in the end, if we cling to Him above and before all else, we will find our hope realized, like the martyrs.


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