Immersed in Christ: June 3, 2020
Wednesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
The first of the last three hostile questions Jesus is asked in Mark’s Gospel before his passion dealt with the Christian stance toward government. The proper concern of the state is to protect and promote the common good of all its citizens on this earth. And Christians’ conscientious participation in this endeavor should give a special character to all our activities and relationships in this world.
The second question raises the issue of life after death. If there is none or, as Plato observed, if there is no God, then the highest of all human occupations is to seek the greatest good for the greatest number through politics. But if life has a higher ceiling than that, we need to know it. So we are interested when “some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus and asked him a question.”
Not believing in resurrection, angels or spirits (Acts 23:8), the Sadducees could not believe in much of an after life. “Less devout than the Pharisees and more politically-minded” (Bible of Jerusalem, Matthew 3:7 note), they were the priestly aristocracy. Not surprising. Those who live for this world frequently rise high in it.
Their question, meant only to make resurrection look ridiculous, was about seven brothers married successively to the same woman. “In the resurrection whose wife will she be?”
Jesus just told them they didn’t have a clue about what life after death was like. “You know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” When people rise from the dead they don’t pair off in marriages. They “are like angels in heaven” — not, we should note, because they don’t have bodies, but because they are not limited by them.
Is that a clear answer? No. What it does make clear is that there are some things beyond human comprehension, and if we are interested in truth we should seek it without restricting it to what we find. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). Paul said of heaven, “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1Corinthians 2: 9).
Do we really think God enters into relationship with persons on this earth (simply giving them life is a covenant), just to let them drop into non-existence after a few years? Jesus said God is “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob [add names you know]. He is God not of the dead, but of the living.” We know that.
Initiative: Open your eyes. Myopic, yes, but what you see reveals what you don’t.