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God of the Living
Wednesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and put this question to him, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, ‘If someone’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers. The first married a woman and died, leaving no descendants. So the second married her and died, leaving no descendants, and the third likewise. And the seven left no descendants. Last of all the woman also died. At the resurrection when they arise whose wife will she be? For all seven had been married to her.” Jesus said to them, “Are you not misled because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven. As for the dead being raised, have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God told him, I am the God of Abraham, (the) God of Isaac, and (the) God of Jacob? He is not God of the dead but of the living. You are greatly misled.”
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I come before you in prayer. I am grateful for this opportunity. Thank you for your willingness to listen to me. Help me to be confident in what I ask from you and attentive to what you tell me. Increase my love for you so that my deepest desire is simply to do what you ask of me.
- “Whose Wife Will She Be?”: “For all seven had been married to her.” In the art of debate, one of the tools employed is the reduction to absurdity; that is, you take the other person’s argument to an extreme to show that if their argument were true, it would lead to consequences patently absurd or contradictory, and thereby false. However, this approach is often reduced to the mere mockery of someone’s argument. That is what the Sadducees attempted with Our Lord. They did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, so to disprove arguments for the afterlife, they thought of a ridiculous example. It was not enough to raise their objection with the example of two brothers having married the woman, but seven. Theirs was more of a “gotcha” question; they seemed little open to an answer.
- “Are You Not Misled?”: Jesus’s humility and concern for souls shone forth in his encounters with his enemies. Although keenly aware of their insincerity and verbal traps, he nevertheless took their questions at face value in order to teach them and lead them to conversion. He ignored the mockery and instructed their ignorance: “When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 7:29). Jesus teaches as one with authority. He provided us with a profound pedagogical lesson. Whenever there is a question about the faith, even if couched in ridicule, we have an opportunity to give an answer. We should do so with as much clarity and charity as possible. Our confidence lies not so much in our delivery, important as that is, but in the power of truth and the subsequent work of the Holy Spirit.
- God of the Living: Our Lord revealed a profound truth that goes to the heart of the Sadducees’ disbelief in the resurrection of the dead, starting with what they did believe. They believed in God and in his revelation to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They believed that God spoke to Moses. Therefore, if they believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they implicitly believed in man’s everlasting life. Jesus told them that God still “is” the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not “was.” Therefore, not only does God still exist, but so do Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God is God of the living. God is the very source of life. God is never “stuck” in the past. Death does not have the last word with God. Our Lord’s Resurrection will make this truth even more abundantly clear.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus Christ, with the aid of your Holy Spirit and the guidance of the Magisterium, continue to lead me from my errors and confusion into all truth (John 16:13). However, I want more than simply seeing clearly; help me to grow in my personal relationship with you. Increase my faith so that I may see your hand at work in even the smallest details of my daily life: a sunset, a flower, a child’s smile. May I have the humility to realize that I still have much to learn about my faith, and the generosity to share the truth about you with others.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will read from either Scripture or the Catechism and then share what I learned with someone else.
For Further Reflection: Read “Please Explain the Difference between the Sadducees and the Pharisees in the Gospels.”
Written by Fr. John Bullock, LC.