November 24, 2018
by John Shea, S.J.
Creighton University's Biology Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs
Lectionary: 502

Revelation 11:4-12
Psalms 144:1, 2, 9-10
Luke 20:27-40

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It’s late fall in the United States. A few leaves tenaciously cling to the trees. The days continue to grow shorter and colder. No wonder so many people suffer Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) this time of year. Dreary, overcast days make many of us pensive, dreading the freezing temperatures and snow storms of the upcoming winter. As another leaf falls in a tight spiral of despair, it’s easy for our thoughts to turn towards death. With the end of Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, we may brood over family and friends who are no longer with us. As the trees lose their leaves and take on the appearance of death, we may obsess over our own mortality, the futility of life and the death that seems to surround us.

But today’s Gospel reminds us that we worship a God of life. We worship not the “God of the dead, but of the living.” Jesus reminds us that the dead will rise. To God, all are alive. We can choose to focus on the fallen leaves or we can choose to focus on the beautiful bright pallet of fall colors. We can choose to focus on the barren trees that appear dead or we can choose to focus on their new life in the spring.

Today we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac and Martyrs. St. Andrew was a Catholic convert who was ordained to the priesthood in Vietnam and was one of 117 people martyred there between 1820 and 1862. Calling to mind today’s readings, we can choose to focus on the death and suffering that over 100,000 Catholic Vietnamese experienced during six decades of persecution. We can choose to focus on the foreign missionaries and laypeople (including a nine-year old) who were executed for being Christian. Or we can choose to focus on the great faith these women and men possessed. We can focus on the promise of new life through the resurrected Christ. We can focus on our God of life who calls from heaven, saying “Come up here.”

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