2 Maccabees 7:1-2,9-14
Jewish martyrs give witness to their faith, even unto death.
The just person will live in God’s presence.
2 Thessalonians 2:16—3:5
Paul encourages the Thessalonians and asks for their prayers.
Jesus answers a question from some Sadducees about the resurrection of the dead. (short form Luke 20:27, 34-38)
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.”
Background on the Gospel Reading
In today’s Gospel, we hear about an encounter between Jesus and some Sadducees. The Sadducees were a party of Judaism active in Jesus’ time, descended from the priestly family of Zadok. They were literal interpreters of the written Law of Moses, which means that they were in disagreement with the position of the Pharisees, who offered an oral interpretation of the Law of Moses.
The Sadducees are described in this Gospel as opponents to the belief in resurrection. In the dialogue presented here, we see an example of the means of disputation that was common in first century Judaism. The Sadducees use the example of Levirate marriage, found in the Law of Moses, to disprove belief in the resurrection. According to Deuteronomy 25:5-10, if a man died without producing an heir, the man’s brother should marry his wife and the offspring of this union would inherit the property and carry on the name of the man who had died. The Sadducees use this as an example to challenge belief in the resurrection.
Jesus argues from the same written Law of Moses to show that there is resurrection. Using the texts from the Book of Exodus (Chapter 3) that describe Moses’ encounter with God in the burning bush, Jesus shows that God is the God of the living, not the dead. Here Jesus uses the same method and texts of the Sadducees to counter them. As the Gospel text suggests, he beat them at their own game!
More importantly, in this discourse Jesus shows the limits of our imaginations when it comes to eternal life. The Sadducees argued against resurrection because of the limits of earthly existence. They did not imagine another possibility for existence and relationship with God. Jesus proposes that the possibilities of resurrected life are beyond our imaginations. Jesus’ conclusion suggests something else as well: To spend time worrying about resurrected life is to miss the point. The point is eternal relationship with God is possible, for God is the God of the living, “. . . for to him all are alive.”
Children in our culture often know very little about death, dying, and eternal life. Take this opportunity to talk with your children about their thoughts, beliefs, maybe even their fears, about death and dying.
In the Gospel this week, Jesus tells us that after we die, we will not need the same things we did when we were alive, but we will continue to have a relationship with God. You could use the example of a tree to help your children understand what Jesus tells us. When a tree is alive it needs water, soil, and sunlight. When the tree is used to make a table, a toy, or something else it has a new purpose. The tree no longer needs water, soil, or sunlight. Read together the short form of the Gospel, Luke 20:27, 34-38. Tell your children about your hope and faith in the resurrection of the body and eternal life with God. Pray together for those in your family who have died and conclude by praying today’s Psalm.
Sources: Loyola Press; Sunday Readings