Enhance your life every day by pondering that life shares God’s life. Place your hope on immortality, not on fears your ego has over extinction, but on an understanding of your true inner being.– Michael R. Kent
Fear of the unknown is something we have to reckon with. The easy way to cope with this is either to deny it or negotiate the existence of the afterlife. It all depends on how we view our life in relation to God and the way we value our humanity. Yet, both are expressions of our crafted meaning and the relevance of God’s gift of freedom. This Sunday’s readings provide us with a faith- response to the question of the resurrection of the dead which for us Christians is a fundamental tenet of our faith. Let us take a look at the Gospel reading.
The Sadducees and Pharisees are often mentioned together, but in their beliefs they are poles apart. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection because they believed only what was revealed in the written Torah. They totally rejected the oral Torah or the traditions held by the Pharisees.
The hypothetical question of the Sadducees on whose wife the woman will be at the resurrection since all seven brothers have been married to her is primarily intended to know on whose side Jesus is – is Jesus on their side or the Pharisees’? On the other hand, the practice of Pharisees that a man takes the widow of his brother is demanded by the law that seeks to guarantee family continuity (Dt. 25:5-10). John J. Pilch claims that this pattern of thinking is family-centered and this-worldly. In consideration of the Middle-Eastern culture, it means continuity of the lineage of the husband and in a male dominated culture, the woman-wife’s role was subjected to this law.
It appears at first glance that the issue at stake is about the resurrection of the dead. But if we take a closer look at the conversation, the primary concern is to push Jesus to take sides – either of the power-brokers that made use of the written or oral tradition or of the law to perpetuate their influence on the lives of other people. In short, they were trying to religiously manipulate Jesus.
In response, Jesus took their argument or question from the point of the God of the living. He pointed out that Moses himself had heard God say, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Ex. 3:1-6), and that it was impossible that God is the God of the dead. Filch pointed out that Jesus explains that immortal beings (angels) do not need to reproduce, only human beings do so in order to ensure the continuity of the race. He identifies these immortals as “children of God,” a favourite Old Testament name for angels (Gen. 6:2; Job 1:6) since they share in the resurrection, a life-giving act of God.
Apart from the content of their argument, the process Jesus applied is something to learn from pastorally. Jesus used arguments that people he was arguing with could understand. He talked to them in their own language, he met them on their own ground and with their own ideas, and that is precisely why the common people understood his point. We will be far better teachers of Christianity and far better witnesses for Christ when we learn to do the same, says William Barclay.
For our daily meditation and Christo-praxis, Michael R. Kent made a very challenging invitation for us to consider:
One of the most important, and rewarding, reflections you can make is about your spiritual nature. Spend some time reflecting on who you are. Enhance your life every day by pondering that life shares God’s life. Place your hope on immortality, not on fears your ego has over extinction, but on an understanding of your true inner being. Sharing God’s life, you live eternally as God lives eternally. It is all one life! Take heart and enjoy that the one life you share from God makes you immortal.
Our faith in the resurrection modifies our whole way of looking at human existence and the way we relate to people and nature.
as published on November 10, 2013, Parish Bulletin
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