March 22, 2018, 4:14 am
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Christ’s resurrection and ours

SOME Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his
brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless.

Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.”

Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They
can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.

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.”


The main theme for this Sunday’s readings focuses on the issue of the Resurrection. This belief has been an essential element of the Christian faith from the beginning and is declared every time the Creed is
recited. This truth has not been that clear from the beginning as is shown in the Gospel discourse for this Sunday.

Here, we encounter the Sadducees raising the issue of Resurrection which finds them on the opposite side of the Pharisees who believe in the Resurrection. The Sadducees, a priestly aristocratic movement
accepted the first five books of the Old Testament as carrying supreme authority and disliked the oral tradition of the Pharisees. They tended to be rationalistic and were by and large wealthy. Yet despite their
differences, when it came to Jesus, they joined the Pharisees to bring him down.

However, the Sadducees had a standard question they liked to pose on the resurrection to try to show how ridiculous it was. Drawing on levirate marriage (Gen 38:8//Deut 25:5, Ruth 4:1-12) and assuming that
a man was to be a husband of one wife in heaven, they constructed a “Whose wife will she be?” dilemma. The questioners begin by noting the levirate custom and there walk Jesus through the story. Each of
the seven marriages of a particular woman ends childless (the absence of a child triggers the levirate process). 

The story has a touch of humor, since one gets the feeling that it is death to marry this woman! The question now arises, “At the resurrection, whose wife will she be?” After all, they are convinced that the
dilemma shows the lack of logic in a resurrection. They also assume that the afterlife is like this life.

Jesus replies at two levels. First, he notes that the afterlife is not like this life, in that there will be no marriage in the era to come. Since people will live forever, there will be no need for marriage and producing
progeny to replenish the earth. It is a new level of existence and people will live like angels.

Second, Jesus makes an important point from the Pentateuch, the one section of Scriptures the Sadducees trust. Jesus notes how God said to Moses that the Lord is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
(Ex 3:2-6). God is the God of the living, not the dead. So if God is still God to the patriarchs as he speaks to Moses, long after their deaths, they must be alive or present somehow in the midst of God. God is
the God of promise for these patriarchs. For them to share in the realization of the promise, they must live to see it.

In other words, Jesus’ reply takes two forms. The Sadducee marriage dilemma misunderstands the afterlife, since marriage does not occur there. Thus, the problem is in fact a pseudo-problem. And Scripture
does teach the Resurrection in the Torah in how it mentions the patriarchs. If God makes promises to them and the afterlife is known (cf. also “Abraham’s side” in Lk 16:22), then resurrection seems an
appropriate deduction. This is a fundamental doctrine of HOPE.

Christ is the final answer to this HOPE. No. 1004 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Christ will raise us up ‘on the last day’; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already risen with
Christ. For, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ…”

May Christ who is our hope of glory strengthen our belief in the Resurrection and enable us to live our lives with joy. 

– Fr. Jesus M. Mali, SSS

– (Nov. 6, 2016)

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