32nd Ordinary Sunday (C)                                                    Luke 20:27-38

Let us say thank you to the Sadducees today for asking Jesus this ridiculous question about the seven different brothers marrying the wife of the first brother that died. The reason they ask this is that according to Jewish law this highly unlikely scenario would have made this woman the legal wife of all seven brothers. The point of their question is to make Jesus’ teaching of the resurrection, or life after death, as silly and not plausible, because the Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife. 

The question, however, allowed Jesus to answer and in doing so He tells the Sadducees and all of us a little bit about what heaven will be like. Jesus talks about the contrast between this age and the coming age. Terminology that Jesus uses to differentiate, life before death and life after death. His first point is that marriage is a divine institution for the propagation of the human race. His Father created marriage, making one man for one woman and telling them to be “fruitful and multiply.” But in the next age, he says, there will be no procreation in heaven — hopefully, this should not disappoint anybody. There will be genders but no sexual or other physical  instincts and therefore, marriage will be suppressed because the purpose and need for marriage will not exist in heaven. Everyone in heaven is in love with God and with each other. It is the perfect state of love. The Sadducees misunderstand the meaning of the resurrection and the state of being that we call heaven. The new age is not about coming back to life as we know it; it is about being born into a life of perfect love in God’s Kingdom. 

The ancient Greek has an interesting way of expressing love. There are three different Greek words for love. First, is εροσ (eros) from which we get the English word erotic, this is a physical, basic bodily love. Secondly, there is the word φιλια (filia) from which we get the English, filial or brotherly love, this is the human love among family and friends and spouses. These are the loves of this age as Jesus calls it. Finally, there is Αγαπε, (agape) which is a divine love, perfect love that is given freely without question to all who are known. This divine love is the love of heaven where we will all be loved and in love with all others — especially God who IS Agape. 

Jesus goes on to tell us there is no more death and our bodies will be like the angels. St. Paul calls these “spiritual bodies.” Remember, Jesus also told us the resurrection of the dead is like unto a seed planted in the ground. What is sown in the earth is subject to decay, what rises is incorruptible. What is sown is ignoble, what rises is glorious; a natural body is put down, a glorified body rises. Thus we are like unto the angels — immortal, like unto Jesus after he rose from the dead, everything corruptible about us will disappear. The life Jesus won for us is not a continuation of this present life; it is a life like God’s, a life that will satisfy every desire of the human heart. 

In spite of this revelation from Jesus we find many Catholics today who have a mortal fear of death. They try to keep the very thought of it far from their minds. Many young people have a feeling that they will live forever. We must be cautious not to be influenced by the pagan cultures today, cultures of death, like the Sadducees of old they consider death as the end, with no redemption, no judgment, no consequences. The only thing that is important for them is the here and now, that is how we get decisions justifying euthanasia, assisted suicide and abortion of those unwanted or unequal. For example, in the Netherlands they have passed a law, which will allow euthanasia of children. May God help us. 

Death is our final test, no one gets off this earth without it. If we are uncomfortable with death it is because our conscience is not at peace with God. We can remove this fear by repenting for our sins and getting right with God, Jesus gave us sacraments just made for that. We should all see death as the culmination of our journey our birth into new life and we should see any suffering as redemptive, our sharing in the suffering of Jesus that leads to eternal life.  Our readings today tell us that God shares our longings for solidarity and immortality. We are created to be in a union of love with each other and with God for all eternity. 

Jesus knows the deepest yearnings of our hearts. This is the reason he left us the Eucharist. It is a means of being truly in communion with Him and with one another in this age and it promises us the age to come when our desire for solidarity and immortality will find fulfillment. So let us continue with this great mystery of the Mass, a memorial of the Lord’s sacrifice that connects heaven to earth at this time, and in this place.

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