God of the living...all of them are alive! 

Scripture    Luke 20:27, 34-38


Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection,

came to Jesus and asked him a question…Jesus said to them,

"The children of this age marry and are given in marriage;

but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age

and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 

Indeed, they cannot  die any more, because they are like angels;

and they are sons and daughters of God,being children of the resurrection…. 

“Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living, for to him all of them are alive."




On this day, the Sadducees are confronting Jesus with a hypothetical question about the resurrection from the dead in the hopes that they might trap him theologically and engage him in a debate. They have just reminded Jesus that in the Law of Moses, if a brother dies and leaves a wife who has no family, the living brother is legally required to marry and take care of his brother’s wife and produce descendants. So, in trying to trip Jesus up, the Sadducees present an extreme case in which seven brothers marry the same woman. The question posed is this: if they all “rise from the dead,” then, who is married to the woman?


Jesus’ way of responding to their ridiculous ‘seven dead husbands’ scenario is important to notice. Instead of arguing, defending or engaging in a religious debate using scripture and theology to make his point, he simply speaks a quiet but powerful truth and lets it stand out there on its own. Jesus replies: The dead are raised. They are like angels. They are sons and daughters of God, being children of the resurrection. There is an afterlife and “all of them are alive.”


How that truth must have shattered through their confident belief that this ‘resurrection from the dead’ was just not possible. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Sadducees was this belief that there is no resurrection after death because resurrection is not named in the Torah – the first five books of the Hebrew bible and they follow that religiously.This Jesus is naming truth beyond their level of present understanding. And they remain silent… and hopefully pondering.


It might be something for all of us to be aware of in our conversations these days when there seems to be so much religious controversy in the public media. Jesus, the teacher, reminds us that it is not very helpful for faith-building when we try to argue with each other theologically. We often come across as manipulative, showing off with our oratorical skills; neither of which is very attractive or appealing to communicate the Gospel message. When we think of it, controversy undermines real faith, because it tends to destroy or weaken our relationships and respect among friends and colleagues. Whenever people feel offensive or defensive we are stepping outside the safe atmosphere of love. However, we do need to find safe places to engage in healthy dialogue and searching discernment with wise companions who want God’s truth -  more than they want to hear their own egos battling for a competitive win. Like Jesus, telling a story, asking a question, sharing a parable, citing a wisdom saying, or even a silent pause, is all that is needed to make a shift in situations that become argumentative or divisive.


The Sadducees say: “There is no resurrection.” Jesus says, “There is resurrection … and our God… is a God of the living not of the dead and for him all of them are alive.” This is such a comforting statement – all of them are alive! Jesus is saying that resurrection happens for all God’s children. Heaven is not a prize dangling at the end of the race saying if you are good you will get to heaven when you die. Death is not the end. For believers, there is something more. ‘Life is changed not ended’ we proclaim in our funeral liturgies! The resurrection of the dead affirms God’s justice, God’s goodness and God’s truth which is greater than anything we can ask or imagine. The resurrection affirms that there is another level of life. There is a place – a state of being – where God is God and where love and truth and justice will be manifested. Our faith affirms there is a life of eternal union with God that we are moving towards… that starts to fill us even here and now. St. John of the Cross wrote these beautiful verses as his spiritual journey entered into the spousal union:


O living flame of love

That tenderly wounds my soul

In its deepest centre! Since

Now You are not oppressive,

Now, Consummate! If it be Your will:

Tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!


All of us ask ourselves from time to time, questions about afterlife, death, resurrection and heaven. Depending at what stage we are at in our life journey, these thoughts can bear down upon us with more seriousness and invite us to enter more deeply into the faith mystery. This Gospel is one place where Jesus reveals some very beautiful mystical understandings about heaven. Jesus tells us that afterlife is entirely different from life as we know it here on earth.  The ‘children of this age’ marry and are given in marriage. Those who “live in that age, in the resurrection of the dead, will neither marry nor be given in marriage.” In Heaven, the institution of human marriage will end, having fulfilled its purpose to anticipate and reflect upon the marriage of Christ and His Bride, the Church.


We believe in this resurrection of love. Jesus explained the resurrection in terms of marriage. A marriage is  a reflection of God's love for all peoples. Marriage unites a man and a woman in an enduring love that comes from God; therefore it gives witness to the world of God's faithfulness and commitment. From the Song of Songs we read that Love is a divine fire …


"‘Set me like a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it."


So why would Jesus say that marriage is not a part of the resurrection of the dead? Why won’t today’s marriages become perfect and continue forever after both husband and wife have entered heaven? Here on earth, love is imperfectly given and imperfectly received. Therefore, it's constantly dying and being resurrected again, every day, to the extent that each spouse grows, changes, forgives, transforms. Love energizes us, sets us afire, gives us such a blessed hope and assurance. But perfect, unconditional love is found only in God. Perfect love is God. “God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God and God lives in him.  Marriage does not exist in heaven because it's an imperfect love: We love our spouses more than we love others. In heaven, we will love our spouses fully (yes, even our ex-spouses!) and we will love everyone else just as much. And those who have loved us poorly will love us better than the best spouse could love us now. Marriage is only a foreshadowing of what love – with everyone – will be like in heaven.


"Love will come to its perfection in us

When we face the day of judgment without fear;

Because even in this world

We have become as he is.

In love there can be no fear,

but fear is driven out by perfect love."  1 John 17-18

Carrying Grace     Pray for those who are on the threshold of this eternity. May they receive their "spiritual marriage" ... 'How tenderly You swell my heart with love.'  (John of the Cross)



#2 arletteh 2010-11-09 17:30
I need to make a correction re.the statement attributed to Carl Jung: he used the term “sacred couple” regarding the integration of the masculine/femin ine parts of our psyche. My imagination suddenly seized on the thought that , at the moment of death, our physical and spiritual selves have also perfectly integrated, and are a “sacred couple ”.Any dialogue on this?
#1 arletteh 2010-11-09 10:33
We are sown a "physical" body and raised a "spiritual" body.1 Cor. 15,44. I like this attempt of Paul to explain resurrection.I think of it this way: as we live more and more in Christ,our true selves in God,we grow a new body,a new wineskin,that eventually needs to burst the bounds of the original physical body,as it enters inti eternity, into heaven ,where we are then like the angels. So good to know that, regardless of the what wineskin has held our life,we will love all persons the same(and all creation,too)! the physical and the spiritual will be One, a true marriage(what Jung call the "sacred couple").Oh, Yes,"How tenderly you swell my heart with love!" (John of the Cross).

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