Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am pretty sure you all might have heard this story appeared in the Readers’ Digest. A man left his Home in Chicago one cold November day to go to Cancun on vacation. His wife was supposed to meet him there a day later. When he got there he sent an email to his wife- only he mis-typed the email address. His email went to a recent widow who had just buried her husband. When she opened the email she gasped and fainted. Her daughter, who happened to be there heard her fall and went to see what happened. She found this note on the capture screen. “My dearest, I just checked in. I can hardly wait to see you when you arrive here tomorrow”. Your loving husband. P.S. it is sure hot here.
As we near the end of the Church’s liturgical year, the readings become more eschatological — having to do with the end times. The main theme of today’s readings is the reality of life after death and of the relationship between our lives on earth and the life of glory or punishment that will follow. The readings invite us to consider the true meaning of the Resurrection in our lives. It is good to know who Pharisees and Sadducees are to understand today’s Gospel.
The Pharisees were an entirely religious group with no political ambitions and were content with any government which gave them religious freedom. The Pharisees believed in, and hoped for, the coming of the Messiah. They believed also in the resurrection of the dead, in angels, spirits and fate, i.e., that a man’s life was planned and ordered by God.
The Sadducees constituted a party of wealth, power and privilege, which controlled the Temple worship. Although few in number, the Sadducees were the Jewish governing class, and they supported Roman rule. The Sadducees believed in unrestricted free-will and not in fate or Divine Providence. They assumed that we control our own destinies through our personal actions. They rejected the idea of the resurrection, because it was not found in the Torah. Nor did they believe in the coming of the Messiah.
Since they didn’t believe in the resurrection, they tried to trap Jesus with a problem they thought would prove there could be no resurrection. They said to him about seven brothers and a woman who had been married successively, and asked who would be her husband in heaven. Jesus answered the Sadducees by telling them they misunderstood marriage and they misunderstood the resurrection. Jesus is saying human language cannot describe the nature of the risen body when he says those who have risen will be like angels. In other words, resurrection will be nothing like the life we live now. Writers have tried to explain it and it seems to be best explained by what it is not: no pain, no suffering, no boredom, no death, and no need for the things we now need to survive (food and rest) and no need to enter into marriages in order to keep our species from dying out. Probably the closest thing to heaven and the risen life that I can think of are those fleeting moments when we experience the love of another or the love of God. But it will be an experience that will be infinitely more profound than anything we now know and it will be forever. St. Paul, in Corinthians, compares the resurrection to a seed that grows into something wonderful and which no longer resembles the seed that had been planted. That is his way of explaining what is unexplainable.
We need to live as people of the Resurrection: This means that we are not to lie buried in the tomb of our sins and evil habits. Instead, we are to live joyful and peaceful lives, constantly experiencing the real Presence of the Risen Lord who gives us the assurance that our bodies also will be raised. In addition, the hope of our resurrection and eternal life with God gives us lasting peace and celestial joy amid the boredom and tensions of our day-to-day lives. The salutary thought of our own resurrection and eternal glory should also inspire us to honor our bodies, keeping them holy, pure and free from evil habits, and to respect those with whom we come in contact, rendering them loving and humble service.
We need to offer living worship to a living God. If God is the God of the living, should not worship of this God also be alive? Our worship services and relation to God must be life-giving rather than life-draining experiences. The proclamation that our God is the God of the living has to mean something positive to us. It should affect our lives today and every day, especially during our Sunday worship. In response to Him, our participation in prayers and songs during the Holy Mass should be active and our behavior in church reverent, though not gloomy. As we continue our Eucharist celebration and gather around the Table of the Lord, let us give thanks to Almighty God for this foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet that awaits us in the place that God has prepared for us.
God Bless You,