The Resurrection of Christ, Emma Syniuk, Saatchi Art.

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[Jesus said], “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.”

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Today’s readings offer a glimpse into the Jewish mind at the time of Jesus. There was a huge controversy going on about life after death – if any. Today’s first reading, from the Second Book of Maccabees, talks about this freely by saying, “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.” Well, Maccabees is not present in the Jewish Bible, meaning it is not believed to be inspired by God. The Catholic and Orthodox traditions, on the other hand, do accept this as inspired by God, hence worthy of belief (and such texts are called “deuterocanonical”, meaning “belonging to the second canon”, a canon being a text worthy of acceptance and belief). Some Protestant traditions also do not include this book in their Bibles. So references to a life following death tend to be rare in the Jewish Bible, hence the trick question presented to Jesus by the Sadducees. They did not accept the concept of any meaningful life following death. They probably accepted the concept of Sheol, a place of darkness where everyone, good or bad, went after death, hence such prayers as “For Sheol cannot thank You, Death cannot praise You; Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your faithfulness” (Isaiah 38:18). The line “He (Jesus) descended into hell” in the Apostles Creed refers to Jesus entering Sheol and redeeming all the just spirits who had waited for that moment.


Jesus’ Descent into Limbo, di Vanni c.1380s, National Museum of Art, Washington DC, USA.

So the Sadducees thought they had trapped Jesus with their question about the seven brothers all marrying the same woman; (which tells us that there was a marriage tradition of one man/one woman by the time of Jesus. Recall that Solomon “had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines” (1 Kings 11:3)). So this whole event allows us, for a moment, to experience the world Jesus was born into and the great controversy of the time.

So, given all that, we can understand the glee of the Sadducees asking Jesus this question. It is a silly question though, because it transfers our earthly experience to the level of God’s presence, namely, heaven. It would be the same as asking what’s going to be on the menu at the heavenly banquet for the next million years! Reality will be perfect in the presence of God, no more concerns, pain, embarrassment, deals, money and so on and on. It is simply the perfect reality of each one of us with God, perfect creature with Perfect Creator, love with Love. Forever. And the supreme reality was Jesus conquering death itself at his Resurrection. That event puts everything else in the shade. He invites all of us to follow him, through life with all its ups and downs, as even he experienced, making everything worthwhile by emerging from death with the promise of eternal love and peace. That is what the seven brothers in the first reading believed, even before they had Jesus to follow. And that is what Paul is talking about in the second reading, where, with the Lord beside us, we can conquer anything that this life throws at us. All we have to do is believe and follow the Lord, who will give us the strength needed to overcome everything.


Romans 8:31, Andrew Wommack Ministries

Reflections on next Sunday’s Mass Readings will be posted on Wednesday.



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