THE SADDUCEES AND THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY
(Biblical reflection on the 32nd Ordinary Sunday [Year C] – 6 November 2016)
Gospel Reading: Luke 20:27-38
First Reading: 2Maccabees 7:1-2,9-14; Psalms: Psalm 17:1,5-6,8,15; Second Reading: 2Thessalonians 2:16-3:5
There came to Him some Sadducees, those who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked Him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the wife and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and died without children; and the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.
And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now He is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to Him.” (Luke 20:27-38 RSV)
Are you the type of person who picks up a good book-length story and reads the last chapter first? Are you the kind of reader who says, “I never read a whole book unless I like the ending?” If so, some people will criticize you for it, but you may be wise after all.
Jesus tells us, “Don’t lay out the book of your life without planning the end of it first. Never choose a way of life unless you like the ending.”
Notice how Jesus answers the liberal, unbelieving Sadducees in today’s Gospel. They say, “Sir, we’re going to stump you on this one. You believe the talk of a resurrection. All right, what about the old tradition of getting remarried after your husband dies? Suppose a woman did so seven times; which one is her husband in the general resurrection?”
Jesus answers, “Your trouble is, you never got the ending of the book straight. You don’t believe in the happy ending of life, because you have never been clear on what life is. But I assure you, whether you understand it or not, the resurrection is real. In fact, that glorious ending of the book is what gives meaning to all the rest. Without that victory, the glory of resurrection, what good is there in the suffering and death? Is not the final ending the most important part of your life story? Does it not make all the difference as to how you live the rest of the story?
We join Jesus in the resurrection only if we join Jesus in everything else. He does. And if we do, then all the sufferings and sorrows and hardships of life make sense. Not only that; they have a great and glorious and victorious meaning. A Christian who knows well the ending of the book can live the victory of Jesus over Satan, and live it every day.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we are in awe of Your love for us. Continue to reveal to us who You are so that we can become more and more like You. Through the help of the Holy Spirit, remind me often of how things look at the end of the book, so that I will plan the rest of my life accordingly. Amen.
Jakarta, 4 November 2016
A Christian Pilgrim