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If I Suffer, What Then?

Thirty-second Sunday Ordinary Time

November 6, 2022 •

You've got seven brothers in the first story, seven brothers in the second story. And one woman in each. At the end of all the stories, everybody dies.

In the first story, the seven brothers and their mother die because they're murdered. They're murdered for the law, tortured by the king. In the second story, the seven brothers and the wife die, we aren't told how. . . . but the reason they all married the same woman was because of God's command.

The first reading, the law was against eating pork. Second reading: the law to marry your dead brother's wife to raise up children for him.

Why seven men, brothers in particular, and one woman? . . .

Seven is a biblical number. It's what we call a "divine number", it has theological meaning. Seven is the number of Creation. God took seven days to create the universe and everything in it. . . . these seven brothers in each account represent Creation. All of God's creation. And notice they are all related. Everything in creation is created and related in that sense.

In both instances, these seven brothers who represent Creation, are all about following God's commands, God's laws. In fact, they are willing to die to do it. So Creation should always be submissive, obedient to the commands, the teachings, the laws of God. . . . Throughout our life, whether we die of natural causes, or whether we are threatened and tortured to death, we are not to break the laws of God. Even to the point of death.

But what does the woman represent? She's the eighth important person in each story. The number eight represents theologically, not only the resurrection, but ever-lasting life: Heaven. So the woman in both stories symbolizes Heaven. How?

In the Old Testament, eight did not represent Heaven, it's only in the New Testament that we learn this. . . . Sunday, technically the first day of the week in the Old Testament calendar, was always understood by the Fathers of the Church as the "eighth day" of the week. Why?

The number seven represents Creation. When Jesus rises from the dead (on Sunday), that is a new creation. Something has changed on this new day. The old creation understood death, it's a natural part of existence, sadly because of sin. In the seven days of normal creation, death is a normal part of that. When Jesus rises from the dead, He changes everything. So that Sunday - the first day of the week - has become a totally new day. If you add that new day to the seven days of Creation, you get eight. Which is why the Fathers always realized that eight is the number that symbolizes resurrection and heavenly glory.

We have the seven brothers of Creation, all following the law of God. And the woman who symbolizes eternal life, resurrection from the dead.

All of them end up dying in the end. But. According to both stories, all are testified as having received heavenly glory because of their fidelity to the laws of God. . . .

2 Mc 7:1-2, 9-14; Ps 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15; 2 Thes 2:16--3:5; Lk 20:27-38

Homily begins at 15:45

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