Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Sunday of the 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Year C
November 10, 2013
2Macc 7:1-2.9-14, 2Thes2:16-3:5, Lk 20:27-38
To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click here:
This is the basic text that guided the homily:
The Path toward Heaven
Every November, the Church has us focus on the four last things — death, judgment, heaven and hell. At the beginning of the month, we celebrate All Saints’ Day, in which we remember and ask the intercession of all those who have arrived at the place to which we aspire. The next day we mark All Souls’ Day, and remember and pray for all the dead, especially those who are in need of our prayers and sacrifices to enter into paradise. Today’s readings are directed more specifically toward us, to teach us some important truths about heaven and the path that will lead us there. Let’s focus on three crucial lessons.
Becoming Fully Life in Union with the God of the Living
The first thing we learn comes from today’s Gospel. Jesus teaches us that the way to eternal life flows from a personal, truly vital, relationship with God. The God of the universe is not the deity of a cemetery of dead bodies, but rather “the God of the living.” And not just the living “in general”: He is the “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” which means, as Jesus illustrated, that these patriarchs — 1800 years deceased when Jesus was speaking — were not dead, but truly alive in God. The God who created us out of love did not create us with expiration dates to that life-giving love. It’s a love that is meant to last forever. The whole point of our life is to receive and reciprocate that love, to accept his invitation to live in a deeply personal relationship with him.
This points to the truth that the resurrection is not so much an event as a relationship with Jesus who says, “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (Jn 11:25). Jesus declared during the Last Supper, “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and the one whom you have sent, Jesus Christ” (Jn 17:3). Eternity begins when we enter into the deep intimate friendship with God, where we join our life to his, because once he’s truly living in us, we are beginning to live forever since his life is eternal.
This Year of Faith is a waste of time unless we’re responding to God’s help and call to develop this deep communion of life and love with Jesus that gives us a foretaste of of heaven right now here on earth. If we’re not living in Jesus, we are, in a sense, dead. We’re walking cadavers. And there are ambulatory corpses even in Churches, those who show up but are not fully there, those who go through the motions of the Christian life but who aren’t really allowing Jesus to raise them from the dead.
This Year of Faith is a grace given to us by God for us to ask some important questions: Do we have that type of relationship such that our bond with Jesus is by far the most defining characteristic, the most valuable treasure, of our life? Or are we putting our treasure, our hope, our apirations, our heart in something else that we have made our god and our heaven?
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who knows and calls us by name, wants to be able to say that God is not merely the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but the “God of Roger, Norman and Henriette, the God of Anne, Ed, and Paulette.” If he’s able to say in truth about us that we are living in an intimate friendship with the “God of the living,” if we are truly sharing his life now, then because his life is eternal, we will live forever!
The Sacrament of Marriage and Heaven
The second thing that Jesus teaches us in the Gospel is the connection between the sacraments — especially marriage — and heaven. Each of the sacraments is meant to help us enter into that living, loving, intimate relationship with God. Each of the sacraments is a bridge to the Trinity, to heaven, to eternity. That relationship begins on the day of our baptism, when God says of us, as he did of Jesus in the Jordan, “This is my beloved son [or daughter], in whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17). It grows every time he embraces us as his prodigal child in the Sacrament of Confession. It is intensified each time we have the awesome privilege of receiving the risen life, his resurrection body, blood, soul uniited to his divinity within us in Holy Communion.
In the Gospel, however, Jesus focuses specifically on the Sacrament of Marriage, on account of the disingenuous question asked by the Sadducees. The Sadducees didn’t believe in the possibility of heaven so they tried to entrap Jesus with the question of the woman who had been married successively to seven brothers. Because marriage is a one-flesh union brought about by God in the beginning, if there were a resurrection from the dead, then presumbly, the Sadducees suggested, this woman would be joined in one-flesh to seven different men in heaven, something they thought totally absurd.
In responding to their question, Jesus taught that the institution of marriage is a reality for this world, not the next. The reason for this is pretty clear. Marriage has a two-fold purpose, love and life, or, in more traditional terminology, the mutual sanctification of the spouses and the procreation and education of children. In heaven, there’s no purpose to marriage because men and women no longer need to be sanctified since they’re already saints; and there will be no new children because saints aren’t having babies in the afterlife! But while there will be no marriage and conjugal sexual activity in heaven, there will certainly be love! Marriage in this world is meant to prepare spouses and children to enter into that love, the perfect love of God and the love of the communion of saints.
And marriage is particularly well-suited to achieve this purpose.
At the beginning of the Book of Genesis, we read that “God created man in his own image; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:28). Since God is a communion of persons in love, we best image God when we exist in a communion of persons in love. The highest form of that communion on earth happens in marriage. Just as in the Communion of Persons who is God, Father and Son loved each other so much that their love “breathed forth” the Holy Spirit, so the total self-giving love of man and woman in marriage can generate a third person, who is both a fruit of that love and a font of continued growth in love. Marriage is meant to help husband and wife get out of themselves, out of their own selfishness, and enter into a communion of love, so that each of the spouses and their children might be better prepared to enter into the Communion of Persons in Love who is the Blessed Trinity. That Communion starts in this world and is meant to last forever.
Today is a day in which all married couples can ask whether they’re truly living in accordance with the sacred, heaven-directed, aspect of marriage. Are husbands and wives helping each other to become saints or just helping each other pay the bills and keep each other from loneliness? Is the greatest hope of parents that their children get into heaven or is it that they become a star athlete, receive a full scholarship to college, and become rich and famous? Likewise for young people who feel called to marriage, is your hope to marry someone “hot” or someone “holy?,” someone who will help you to become more like God or more like Hugh Hefner (of Playboy infamy) or Anastasia Steele (the protagonist of the female porn of 50 Shades of Gray)? If marriage and family life is lived in the way God intends, it is a school of love and one of the most powerful paths to heaven. The faithfulness of marriage can strengthen one to remain faithful always to God, in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, in poverty and prosperity. But if marriage is not centered on God’s life and love, then it can become a real obstacle to eternal life. Just look at what happened with the first marriage, when God used Adam and Eve against each other: Adam failed to protect Eve, Eve was tempted by the devil and ate the forbidden fruit, and then brought her husband down with her. God intends that husbands and wives help each other to become true saints, but couples need to recall that the devil is also at work and he’s seeking to turn them on each other and use them to draw them away from God.
We’re living in a culture in which, in many ways, the devil seems to be winning with regard to marriage. He’s gotten many people, including, sadly, some Catholics, to think that you no longer even need a husband or a wife for a marriage but just any two adults who say they love each other. He’s allured many to divorce and remarry in direct violation of Jesus’ words. He’s seduced many to think marriage is nothing other than a sheet of paper such that they cohabitate rather than truly commit. He’s beguiled Catholics to think that there’s no essential difference between a valid sacramental marriage and the exchange of civil rights and responsibilities before a Justice of the Peace. He’s inveigled so many young people to harm their chances for a faithful, happy, holy marriage by thinking that years of unchaste sexual behavior is the best marriage preparation course they can take.
The month of November is a tremendous grace for all married couples and families to wake up and remember that God intends marriage to be a Sacrament to help those who receive it get to heaven, to assist them to encounter Jesus and his love, to seek to love each other as he loves them, and to start to let that hope of heaven influence all of their choices here on earth. For that reason, it’s a “great marriage enrichment month,” a chance for all of us to recalibrate our internal compasses, our consciences, toward heaven and start to look at all of reality from the perspective of the Real, Real World.
Letting Heaven Give Direction to Life on Earth
That’s the point Pope Francis made earlier today in his Angelus meditation in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. He said that Jesus in his answer to the Sadducees turned their logic — and to a large degree our own — right side up. We need to begin with the life of heaven and from that orient our way of living on earth rather than start with life on earth and have that color our impression of impression. What will happen in heaven, Pope Francis said, is not just a “better version” of this life, but something beyond our imagination. What will happen is “exactly the opposite of what the Sadducees expected,” he said. “This life cannot be the standard for eternity: it is eternity, on the contrary, that illuminates our life on earth, and gives each of us hope. If we only look through human eyes, “the Pope continued, “we tend to say that the path of man goes from life towards death. But Jesus turns this perspective on its head, and affirms that our pilgrimage goes from death towards a fuller life. So death is behind us, not in front of us,” the Pope concluded. “In front of us is the God of the living, the definitive defeat of sin and death, the start of a new time of joy and endless light. But already on this earth – in prayers, in Sacraments, in fraternity – we encounter Jesus and his love, and so we can get a small taste of the risen life.”
Pope Francis is saying that the perspective of heaven should influence our days, our home, our familial and our parochial life. This same point was made very powerfully by a priest friend of mine from Minnesota whose a great Christian song-writer. I was listening to his music in the car last night driving to a party for my God-daughter’s tenth birthday. The song is entitled “The Eastern Shore,” and it describes how our entire life of faith is supposed to be influenced by a hunger for and deep awareness of our call to heaven. The Eastern shore is the shore of heaven, where Christ, symbolized by the Sun, perpetually rises. It describes how eternal perspective, the desire for the pearl of great price, is meant to influence all our choices, our choices for marriage, our choices for the priesthood or religious life, our willingness to suffer for our faith here on earth, our eagerness to die so that we may live with God. The refrain of the song features the words, “Don’t talk to me about the land that I’m leaving. I don’t want to hear it anymore! I’ve set sail on the sea of believing. And I ain’t gonna stop, no I ain’t gonna stop, until I reach the Eastern Shore.” So often in the life of faith, we focus so much on what we’re giving up, what we’re supposedly losing, what we’re suffering and going through, and that keeps us fearfully at the dock. Instead, we need to think much more about heaven, for holiness, for happiness, for God — all of which await us on the eastern shore. The month of November and in fact this entire Year of Faith is meant to stoke up our desires for heaven. The Year of Faith banner hanging behind me features the Barque of Peter as the boat of faith, sailing across occasionally stormy seas by the wind of the Holy Spirit blowing the sails of the Mast — the Cross of Christ — to the Eastern shore. We need courageously to board that ship and help others to join us on that courageous journey of faith.
Perseverance in Faithful Love Until the End — and Helping Others to Persevere
That brings us to the third lesson the readings today teach us in faith: the crucial need for us to persevere in faith, to persist with determination in keeping our eyes on the Eastern shore, to press on tenaciously in our union with Christ just like a faithful husband wife persevere in love in good and bad times, in sickness and health, in poverty and prosperity. St. Paul in today’s second reading prays for the Christians in Thessalonika and for us, that God will “guard you from the evil one” and “direct your hearts to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ.” Many times we will be tested, just like St. Paul’s was tested. The devil is seeking to distract and tempt us away from God, not just temporarily but permanently. He’s trying to get us to deny God. He’s seeking to do all that he can to stop us from finishing the pilgrimage of faith that we began on the day we were baptized. God is faithful, but he doesn’t force us to be faithful. Just as a husband or a wife can betray and abandon a loving spouse, so we can forsake the covenant of love God founded with us — and the devil is an evil seducer who will do everything he can to get us to cheat on God and destroy that saving bond. Likewise other people who — like the devil — don’t want us to serve God but want to become our gods, will try to thwart our persevering in faithful love and friendship with God until the end.
That’s what today’s first reading is all about from the Second Book of Maccabees. But we also see how the family and the worldwide family of the Church are meant to help us remain always faithful.
King Antiochus IV of Greece had wanted to impose the Greek religion on the Jews and to break down Jewish religious practice, so he commanded the Jews to eat pork, which was prohibited by the Mosaic Law. But today we meet a heroic family — a lionhearted mother and her seven valiant sons — who absolutely refused to do so despite gruesome tortures and the specter of death. Theirs is a tremendous example of faithful love for God until the end. Eating pork might seem like a little thing to those who don’t care about being faithful in little things — some might say today, is remaining true to God even in terms of what we eat really worth dying for? — but this family loved God so much and trusted in him so deeply that they were willing to be killed lest they displease God in a minimal way. Unlike Adam and Eve, who believed the serpent’s lie that eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a small, itty-bitty matter with no consequences, these brothers, cheered on by their mother, said the firmest possible “no” to these temptations. So great was their love of God, their faith in the resurrection, their hunger for eternal life that they were able to account all of their sufferings a small price to pay in order to obtain the eternal treasure of life and love with God.
The first reading isn’t a parable. It’s a true story. It’s a chronicle of heroic perseverance and fidelity, one has been repeated many times in the history of salvation in the lives of the martyrs, whose motto was “better to die than to sin,” better to lose one’s physical life and save one’s soul than lose the soul and save the body. Jesus would say, “Do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Mt 10:28), and the long list of Church martyrs and this intrepid family in the Book of Maccabees didn’t fear those who could only hurt and kil the body. What made them capable of saying “yes” to God and “no” to sin in the most dramatic moments was the fact that they were accustomed to saying “yes” to God and “no” to sin in ordinary moments. In their daily lives, they were dying to sin, dying to themselves, and living for God. They lived in a personal relationship with him and they never wanted that communion to end. In the moral decisions they faced, they knew they were choosing, in disguise, either God or the devil, either Christ or Barabbas. Their love for God, their faith in him and hope in his promise of eternal life, gave them the strength continually to choose the Lord, to die rather than to sin.
It’s an opportunity for each of us to ask ourselves, if some madman were threatening to kill our loved one unless they blasphemed God, or urinated on a crucifix, or desecrated the Eucharist, would we encourage our loved ones to be faithful to God or to capitulate in order to save their earthly hides? If we were threatened with death unless we took a pinch of incense and put on it charcoals in front of statues of pagan gods — the way so many early Christian martyrs were convicted — would our family members and friends cheer us on to be faithful or would they urge us to cave in?
True Spiritual Motherhood
Pope Francis in a retreat he preached to Spanish bishops several years ago, mentioned this scene of the Mother and Seven Sons in the Second Book of Maccabees and said that the Church as a whole needs to learn from the scene. The Church is a mother, a real mother, and is called to imitate the mother of this family in spurring her children on to fight the good fight, to finish the race and to keep the faith, just like Mary at the Foot of the Cross helped strengthen her Son to cross to the finish line of his saving work.
I’ve said before that the whole mission of St. Bernadette’s Parish is to become a school of martyrs, to try to nourish your faith to the point that you would remain true to God to the point of martyrdom. The Church doesn’t exist to make you spiritual wimps but to fill you with heroic virtue. If we don’t do that, we fail you. Tomorrow we celebrate Veteran’s Day and remember so many generations of audacious soldiers who were willing to sacrifice their life for their country, for their loved ones, for innocent people abroad. We remember so many who were captured and tortured in POW camps and didn’t cave in under threat of torture to reveal where their fellow soldiers were. We pray for so many who did things like land on Omaha Beach on D-Day and boldly storm the cliffs while being shot at for hours. How did they become this way? How did they get this courage? Part of it came from the values they got at home, but much of it was instilled in them in Boot Camp and subsequent training. Imagine when they went to boot camp if their sargeants formed them, as soon as they heard bullets or smelled blood, to run away? They were trained so that when the battle was being waged they would be valiant. That’s the mission of the Church as well, to form you, to strengthen you, to remain faithful like soldiers in Christ’s army to remain true to him until the end, knowing that what he promises is something far greater than a Purple Heart and the Medal of Honor.
Pope Francis in that retreat to Spanish bishops reminded them of this story of the heroic mother because he knew that many bishops, instead of forming those entrusted to them to remain faithful in the worst of trials train them by their negligence to become cowards. The same thing can be said about many priests. The way they behave sometimes seems to indicate that they’re just trying to keep a social club going. When their people are unfaithful in little things — when they don’t come to Mass on Holy Days, when they don’t come to confession, when they’re not living by the Commandments, when they’re not making any sacrifices to get involved and care for others, for the Church, for God’s mission — many times these priests won’t say a word. And all that they’re doing is by omission training their people in infidelity. And so instead we get Catholics like so many Catholic politicians who betray the Lord for votes. We get Catholics who side with popular opinion more than the Gospel. We get Catholics who deny Christ and his teaching before others. I promise you that I am totally committed never to betraying the Lord and you in this way. I love you and I love the Lord too much to betray you by holding you to a lower standard than the standard of the Gospel. If I challenge you, that’s because I know that God is challenging you and me and all of us. It’s because I know with God’s help you’re capable of meeting that challenge.
The whole Church is meant to be like the Mother of the Seven Sons and to form Catholics not only to imitate the courage of the sons but to become mothers who can raise families of sons and daughters who will be faithful in the same way.
I’ve always been very moved by the speech of the mother. I think every mom and dad, and every one who hopes to be a mom and dad, should take it to pray, should memorize it, should get to know it so well that if they were ever in a similar circumstance they could almost say it to their children on autopilot. This mother had seen the authorities cut out the tongue, scalp and chop off the hands and feet of her first son and then fry him; tear off the skin and hair of the second; cut out the tongue of the third; and torture and maltreat the fourth, fifth and sixth in similar ways. She had only one son left, the youngest. The brutal executioners turned to her, who in the middle eastern culture of the time was about to be totally abandoned because she’d have no man — no husband or son — to care for her, and urged her to talk her last son out of martyrdom. She had already, after all, given six sons back to God. Surely that was enough of a sacrifice, one could have thought. But the text tells us that, filled with courage, she spoke to them in the language of their forefathers — the language of faith! — that they understood. “I do not know how you came into existence in my womb,” she said. “It was not I who gave you the breath of life, nor was it I who set in order the elements of which each of you is composed. Therefore, since it is the Creator of the universe who shapes each man’s beginning, as he brings about the origin of everything, he, in his mercy, will give you back both breath and life, because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law.” She spoke about the faith in the resurrection that God would give to those remain true till the end.
After King Antiochus himself gave her one last chance, she leaned over closer to her youngest son and said in her native tongue, “Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months, nursed you for three years, brought you up, educated and supported you to your present age. I beg you, child:… Do not be afraid of this executioner, but be worthy of your brothers and accept death, so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with them.” She didn’t beg him to have mercy on her and not leave her an orphaned mamma, but to have mercy on her and to remain faithful to God and to all she taught her children in God’s name. And the seventh son was treated worst of all and after he was dead, the king unsurprisingly had their mother killed as well.
What incredible faith! What trust in God and in his promises! They were able to be courageous until the end not because they ate Middle Eastern Wheaties for breakfast each day or because there was something special in their mother’s breast milk. They were able to remain faithful because they loved God more than they loved themselves and more than they loved each other. They were able to remain faithful because they knew that God was a God of the living and that even if they should be struck down they would not be dead but alive forever in him.
Fidelity in Little Things as the Training to Be Faithful in Big Ones
We, too, are capable of that same heroism in the faith provided that we respond to God’s graces the way they did. We are capable of behaving like the mother and like her seven children. And the way we prepare for faithfulness in that supreme hour is by being faithful in little things: such as faithfully never compromising on our prayer, on our coming to Mass, on our charity toward others, on our telling the truth, on our keeping our promises, on our remaining true to our loved ones. In short, the way we prepare for remaining united to Christ at the supreme hour is by keeping our life-giving loving friendship alive with him at all times and seeking to ensure, in response to his help, that it is the defining reality of our life, our marriages, our families, all we are. It’s by keeping our eyes fixed on the Eastern shore. It’s by remembering that our homes and parishes are boot camps in which we’re preparing sons and daughters for battle and seek to instill in them virtues like the virtues we celebrate tomorrow on Veteran’s Day.
The greatest way for us to grow in the courage and fidelity we need Jesus has left us in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. He has left us himself. When we truly enter into everything that our recpetion of Jesus in Holy Communion is meant to do in us, we grasp that we are uniting ourselves in total self-giving love to Jesus, uniting ourselves to his own self-giving out of faithful love for the other, for us and for others.
Entering into Communion with Jesus’ Persevering Courage
When the Iroquois Indians were killing St. Jean de Brebeuf in Canada in 1649, after they stripped him naked and beat him with clubs on every part of his body; after they cut off his hands, applied white-hot tomakawks to his armpits and groin, and fastened searing sword blades around his neck; after they covered him with bark soaked in pitch and resin and lit him on fire; after, in order to silence him from exhorting all the witnesses to remain faithful, the savages plugged up his mouth, tore off his lips, cut off his nose, and then, in mockery of baptism, put him in a tub of boiling water; after they proceeded to cut off his flesh, roast it and eat it in front of him; after all of that they sliced open his chest and ripped out his beating, valiant heart, so that they could drink his blood when it was still warm. The Iroquois wanted to drink his warm blood because they as ferocious as they were, they wanted to drink his courage, his perseverance, his greatness.
Well at Mass, we do something far greater. We reeive Jesus’ body given for us, we drink his blood poured out for us, and the more we worthily receive Jesus, the more we eat and drink his courage. The more we grow in faith. The more we become one with him who didn’t cave in when civil and religious leaders were interrogating him, when Roman soldiers were scourging and crucifying him, when thieves and passers by were mocking him and challenging him to come down from the Cross. Entering into communion with him and keeping that communion will help us, like the martyrs, to remain faithful no matter what the threats. The Eucharist is the food of martyrs, the food of eternal champions, the food of everlasting life. As we come to receive Jesus today, let us explicitly ask him for the grace to remain faithful to him in little things and big things, in good and bad times, in light and darkness, all the days of our life on earth, so that we may enjoy forever an eternal communion with him and all the martyrs and saints on the eastern shore!
The readings for today’s Mass were:
2 MC 7:1-2, 9-14
and tortured with whips and scourges by the king,
to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law.
One of the brothers, speaking for the others, said:
“What do you expect to achieve by questioning us?
We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.”At the point of death he said:
“You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life,
but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.
It is for his laws that we are dying.”
After him the third suffered their cruel sport.
He put out his tongue at once when told to do so,
and bravely held out his hands, as he spoke these noble words:
“It was from Heaven that I received these;
for the sake of his laws I disdain them;
from him I hope to receive them again.”
Even the king and his attendants marveled at the young man’s courage,
because he regarded his sufferings as nothing.
After he had died,
they tortured and maltreated the fourth brother in the same way.
When he was near death, he said,
“It is my choice to die at the hands of men
with the hope God gives of being raised up by him;
but for you, there will be no resurrection to life.”
PS 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15
Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
My steps have been steadfast in your paths,
my feet have not faltered.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Keep me as the apple of your eye,
hide me in the shadow of your wings.
But I in justice shall behold your face;
on waking I shall be content in your presence.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
2 THES 2:16-3:5
Brothers and sisters:
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement
and good hope through his grace,
encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed
Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us,
so that the word of the Lord may speed forward and be glorified,
as it did among you,
and that we may be delivered from perverse and wicked people,
for not all have faith.
But the Lord is faithful;
he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.
We are confident of you in the Lord that what we instruct you,
you are doing and will continue to do.
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God
and to the endurance of Christ.
Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection,
came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying,
“Teacher, Moses wrote for us,
If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child,
his brother must take the wife
and raise up descendants for his brother.
Now there were seven brothers;
the first married a woman but died childless.
Then the second and the third married her,
and likewise all the seven died childless.
Finally the woman also died.
Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?
For all seven had been married to her.”
Jesus said to them,
“The children of this age marry and remarry;
but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age
and to the resurrection of the dead
neither marry nor are given in marriage.
They can no longer die,
for they are like angels;
and they are the children of God
because they are the ones who will rise.
That the dead will rise
even Moses made known in the passage about the bush,
when he called out ‘Lord, ‘
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;
and he is not God of the dead, but of the living,
for to him all are alive.”