2 Maccabees 7:1-2,9-14
2 Thessalonians 2:16—3:5
The first reading for Sunday tells the story of seven brothers and their mother who are tortured and put to death by the king because they refused to eat pork in violation of God’s law. Each, in turn, speaks boldly about their belief in God’s faithfulness that will lead to resurrection.
The gospel reading is related because it also deals with resurrection. Jesus is confronted by a group of Sadducees who do not believe in resurrection. They were the legal interpreters of the Law of Moses as opposed to the Pharisees who offered an oral interpretation of the law. They pose the situation of a childless widow. The Sadducees ask if the widowed woman’s husband’s brothers are obligated to marry her to produce an offspring. This practice is in the Law of Moses. They state that the husband had seven brothers and as each marries her and dies the next brother in line marries her. Facetiously they ask which brother will be her husband in heaven?
Jesus refutes their claim by also using Moses and his experience at the burning bush where he encounters God who had been in relationship with Moses’ ancestors. Jesus shows that God is the God of the living and not the dead.
In this confrontation Jesus points out the limits of human imagination when it comes to eternal life. The Sadducees are limited by earthly existence. Jesus states that the possibilities of resurrected life are beyond our imaginations.
What should this say to all of us? We are foolish if we spend our time and energy worrying if there is resurrection or afterlife. With faith we know that an eternal relationship with God is possible, for God is the God of the living, not the dead.
I have had the privilege of being with numerous people as they died. Each death is idiosyncratic and beautiful in its own way. This is true even if suffering was present before death. I have seen people smile as they died. I have seen people lift up their arms reaching for something as they died. I have heard people speak out to a loved one as they died. These experiences, and others, have been sacred moments and real gifts.
We celebrate the most important resurrection – that of Jesus at Easter. We sing hymns about resurrection and celebrate resurrection liturgies. As people of faith we believe in resurrection. We are a people alive with resurrection hope. Alleluia!
What helps you to believe in and have faith in resurrection?