Jun 3 – Memorial for St. Charles Lwanga & companions, martyrs
One of 22 Ugandan martyrs, St. Charles Lwanga is the patron of youth and Catholic action in most of tropical Africa. He protected his fellow pages, aged 13 to 30, from the homosexual demands of the Bagandan ruler, Mwanga, and encouraged and instructed them in the Catholic faith during their imprisonment for refusing the ruler’s demands.
For his own unwillingness to submit to the immoral acts and his efforts to safeguard the faith of his friends, Charles was burned to death in 1886, by Mwanga’s order. When Pope Paul VI canonized these 22 martyrs in 1964, he referred to the Anglican pages martyred for the same reason.
2 Tim 1:1-3, 6-12
He is God, not of the dead, but of the living.
In today’s gospel, the Sadducees went to Jesus to criticize and to ridicule faith in the Resurrection. They tell about the fictitious case of the woman who got married seven times and at the end, she died without having any children. The so-called law of the Levirate marriage obliged the widow who had no children to marry the brother of the deceased husband. The son born from this new marriage would be considered the son of the deceased husband. He would then have a descendant. But in this case proposed by the Sadducees, the woman, in spite of having had seven husbands, remained without a son. They asked Jesus: “In the Resurrection, when they will rise, to whom will the woman belong? Because seven had her as wife!” They wanted to illustrate the point that to believe in the resurrection was absurd.
Jesus responded “Are you not misled because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?” Jesus explains that the condition of persons after death will be totally different from the present condition. After death there will be no marriage, but all will be as the angels in Heaven.
The Sadducees imagined life in Heaven as life on earth.
Prior to my conversion many years ago, my childhood was filled with all sorts of non-Christian beliefs. My father was a very devout Buddhist and my paternal side of the family were actually more ‘rojak’ in faith. I never could understand some of the beliefs but went along anyway because I was just too young then. Years later, after my father passed away, my aunts would help us in the annual memorial service for my dad. My brother and I, who were now Catholics, would ‘participate’ in the prayer sessions.
One of the parts of the service is called ‘transfer of merits’. According to Buddhism, good deeds or ‘acts of merit’ bring happiness to the doer both in this world, and in the hereafter. Every good deed produces ‘merit’ which accumulates to the ‘credit’ of the doer. Buddhism also teaches that the acquired merit can be transferred to others and it can be shared vicariously with others. The method for transferring merits is quite simple. First, some good deeds are performed. The doer of the good deeds has merely to wish that the merit he has gained accrues to someone in particular, or to ‘all beings’. So my brother would lead the family in this ritual, pouring water into a huge basin, transferring ‘our merits’ to my father. I always felt that this was a bit flawed. You mean all of us sinners on earth have got more merits than someone who has returned back to Our Father? Our Father of goodness and forgives all our sins?
What does the Church teach us about life after we die?
CCC1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification or immediately, or immediate and everlasting damnation.
At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.
What is heaven?
It is both the dwelling place of God & also the state of existence for the soul – perfect happiness in union with God and with all of the saints and angels.
I am so consoled to know that Dad’s place in heaven is not dependent on the ‘merits’ of his children and family members. I am so happy that our God is God of the living.
Heaven is truly “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22).
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Lord, we lift up our eyes to You who are enthroned in heaven. We pray, never allow us to be separated from you. At the evening of our lives, may it be pleasing to you, Lord. We look towards our ultimate union with God in heaven.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father God, for loving us so much that you gave us the ultimate sacrifice of your sinless Son. May we be worthy of such sacrifice and love.