II Mc 7:1-2, 9-14; II Thes 2:16–3:5; Lk 20: 27-38
The husband checked into the hotel in Florida. He sent a quick e-mail to his wife who was expected to arrive on the following day. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her e-mail address, and without realizing his error, he sent the email that went to a wrong person. Somewhere in Kalamazoo MI, a widow had just returned home from her husband’s funeral who was called to home by a sudden heart attack. The widow decided to check her email, expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she fainted. Because the email said: To: My Loving Wife! Subject: I’ve Arrived. I know you’re surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send e-mails to your loved ones. I’ve just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is not as uneventful as mine was. P.S. Sure is hot down here!
The beautiful and colorful leaves are falling from the trees. We are preparing ourselves for the change of season. I can’t believe it’s already November! Every year, as we conclude the liturgical year, church invites us to reflect about our death and life after the death.
Have you ever been asked a question and you know the questioner is not really serious but is just testing to see how you will react? It is this silly game that the Sadducees play with Jesus in today’s Gospel. They proposed a hypothetical situation which was most unlikely ever to occur. If a man’s brother died without a child, the brother should marry the widow according to Jewish Law (Deut 25:5-10) so that his brother would have offspring. This continued with seven brothers marrying the woman and each dying without a child. Then comes the question, “at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?” It seemed obvious that the woman could not be the wife of all seven men in the next life so the Sadducees, who did not believe in the Resurrection, hoped to trap Jesus into somehow saying that there is no Resurrection. Instead of trapping Jesus, Jesus uses the question to give his clearest teaching on the Resurrection.
Jesus says, “They can no longer die, for they are like angels…” (Luke 20:36) There is a radical difference between our earthly body and our body in the next life. The best way to think about our heavenly body is that we will be “like angels.” We can see something of this difference when Jesus rose from the dead. People did not recognize Jesus after his resurrection. Mary Magdalene thought Jesus was the gardener and even asked him about finding the body of Jesus (John 20:14-15). She did not recognize him until he spoke. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Jesus until the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:13-35). Not only did Jesus look different after his resurrection but he could pass through walls and doors. On Easter Sunday evening the disciples were gathered together with the doors closed but Jesus came among them (John 20:19). Yet the evangelists also make it clear that Jesus did have a body; he needed to eat (Luke 24:41-42; Acts 10:41), and he showed them the wounds in his hands and feet (Luke 24:39). Jesus’ body after the resurrection was transformed.
Jesus says, “They can no longer die, for they are like angels…” (Luke 20:36) There is a radical difference between this life and the next life. We cannot think about the next life in terms of this life. That radical transformation affects everything about us in the next life, even marriage. As we think about marriage in this life we know that marriage is to be a blessing for the spouses; they are to help sanctify each other. Marriage is a gift from God for the good of the spouses, but also for the procreation of children.
In today’s Gospel Jesus teaches that there is a radical difference between this life and the next. Marriage is for this life only, there is no marriage in the next life, so the Sadducees’ question is irrelevant.
Perhaps the most important message the gospel gives us today is to assure us that God has crated us for eternal life, a life much more wonderful than anything we can imagine. Remember St. Paul’s statement: “eye has not seen nor ear heard nor has it entered into our hearts what things God has prepared for those who love him.” So, in bad times, we must remember there are better times ahead. In good times, we cannot forget about the even greater happiness God has prepared for those who love him and are faithful to him.
Belief in the resurrection gave strength and hope to seven Jewish brothers about to be martyred. We too are reassured by Jesus’ teaching and look forward to eternity with God, radically transformed. May we live lives worthy of God’s promise.