Luke 20: 27-38
All Intimacies Will Be with God
Some Sadducees came up. This is the Jewish party that denies any possibility of resurrection. They asked, “Teacher, Moses wrote us that if a man dies and leaves a wife but no child, his brother is obligated to take the widow to wife and get her with child. Well, there once were seven brothers. The first took a wife. He died childless. The second married her and died, then the third, and eventually all seven had their turn, but no child. After all that, the wife died. That wife, now—in the resurrection whose wife is she? All seven married her.”
Jesus said, “Marriage is a major preoccupation here, but not there. Those who are included in the resurrection of the dead will no longer be concerned with marriage nor, of course, with death. They will have better things to think about, if you can believe it. All ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. Even Moses exclaimed about resurrection at the burning bush, saying, ‘God: God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob!’ God isn’t the God of dead men, but of the living. To him all are alive.”
It’s November. It’s getting colder. The clocks have gone back; the nights are darker. We’ve just had Halloween, All Saints and All Souls. The year is drawing to a close. This is the month when we pray especially for the souls of those who have died, and it’s important to remember the promise of resurrection, which Jesus talks about in today’s Gospel.
Quite a few times in scripture, we see the enemies of Jesus putting him on the spot – trying to trap him with the trickiest questions they can think of. Here, it’s Sadducees trying to show what a ridiculous idea resurrection is, using an example from the law of Moses in Deuteronomy, where if a man died childless, his brother had to marry the widowed sister-in-law.
To modern people, having a law that passes bereaved wives round the men of a family is a horrible idea, but in ancient Jewish society, the practice was carried out for financial reasons – keeping inheritances within the family or tribe. (And according to Leviticus, marrying your widowed in-laws was illegal, so an exception that completely reversed the rule was made in the case of childless widows.)
The opponents of Jesus often try to test him by seeing if he will teach that a law should be broken or ignored. The response Jesus gives here avoids the trap: he explains that after resurrection, the Kingdom of God is nothing like the world mortals live in. The things which are so important to us in our world don’t even need to be considered in eternal life. Neither marriage nor death will have any meaning, so the law doesn’t either.
In eternal life, our closest relationship is with God; our most intense happiness comes from being with God. That’s where we will be truly alive - which is why God is the God of the living, not of the dead. He resurrected Jesus, and will resurrect us to a better life than the one we leave behind.
Salesian Communications Worker
We remember the Holy Souls, and pray for those we have loved in life who have been called from us. We treasure the memories we have of them; we thank you for the gift of their lives; and we ask you to cherish them with you in eternal life.
We pray for the souls who were lonely in life, and do not have anyone to remember them.
We pray for those who were lost in life, that they will still be able to find your forgiveness and love.
We ask all the saints to pray for us, that when our time comes, we too may live in eternal joy with God, our Father.