A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 20.27 – 38 ©
The Gospel of the Day – 2016.11.06
The Letter of the Law
Some Sadducees – those who say that there is no resurrection – approached him and they put this question to him, ‘Master, we have it from Moses in writing, that if a man’s married brother dies childless, the man must marry the widow to raise up children for his brother. Well then, there were seven brothers. The first, having married a wife, died childless. The second and then the third married the widow. And the same with all seven, they died leaving no children. Finally the woman herself died Now, at the resurrection, to which of them will she be wife since she had been married to all seven?’
Jesus replied, ‘The children of this world take wives and husbands, but those who are judged worthy of a place in the other world and in the resurrection from the dead do not marry because they can no longer die, for they are the same as the angels, and being children of the resurrection they are sons of God. And Moses himself implies that the dead rise again, in the passage about the bush where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is God, not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all men are in fact alive.’
As Christians, we should never be like the Sadducees depicted here in this narrative.
Avoid the trap of legalisms, and the legalistic perspective or approach to faith.
Faith should be simple, in the way that Jesus himself expressed it. Faith means trust. Trust in our greatest hopes.
Christian hope is founded in the resurrection. It is not merely a belief that we continue in the next world, but that the next world is governed by God, in justice, and love.
Marriage today is much the same as it was in the ancient world, it is a contract; sometimes between two people, sometimes between families. It concerns the ownership of property. It is a transaction, it concerns the promise of future transactions, and the disposition of properties; that will have grown or diminished in value according to the circumstances and choices of the individuals.
In some cultures marriage has come to have many other meanings. For many, marriage, is more about love and romance, commitment and trust. Nevertheless, the core of marriage remains the same, it is a contract.
In the next world, the Christian promise is one in which the need for private property has disappeared. It is one in which there is no want, material needs have altogether vanished. We relate to the personhood of one another on an altogether different level and so there is no need for marriage.
The question that the Sadducees put to Jesus is moot.
Jesus, however, gets to a deeper point. He takes his interlocuters on a faith journey, and he instructs them from the teaching of Moses, regarding Moses’ own faith in the next life.
He takes them on this journey because the Sadducees were a conservative group within the Hebrew tradition. They did not believe in the afterlife, and they considered themselves to be strict interpreters of the books of Moses and the law.
Jesus shows them that Moses’ own words suggest that God, the creator of the universe, that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Joseph, expressed in the present tense not the past. Indicating that God is the God of the living, not the dead, concluding this teaching with an expression of the universal faith that all people are alive to God, that there is no death.
There is no death, not now, not ever.
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time