32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14
Psalm 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15 (15b)
2 Thessalonians 2:16-3-5
November 6, 2022
The Sadducees come to Jesus with a question. Given that this passage starts by saying the Sadducees “deny that there is a resurrection,” we realize they aren’t asking with the best intent. They want to discredit Jesus.
They call Jesus “Teacher” but they don’t believe what He says. As educated religious people, they start from what Moses said. That’s a good thing.
They speak of what was known as the “levirate law” (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) regarding children of a deceased brother. They speak of the situation of seven brothers who, following the levirate law, die one after another without children, each marrying the same woman.
Because the woman has been married seven times, the Sadducees ask Jesus, “Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be.” If one only sees the resurrection as an extension of life in this world, the question may have value. Thinking along this line, they want to show that the idea of resurrection is absurd.
However, the resurrection is not simply an extension of earthly life. It is something more that we don’t fully understand. Jesus says that those who attain the resurrection “neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die.” The resurrection is not just resuscitation. It is being raised to new life with God.
The Sadducees saw the resurrection as new teaching. As new and not consistent with the old (we should be weary of “new” teaching), they rejected it.
However, the resurrection was not new teaching. Our first reading from Maccabees in the Old Testament today shows a clear belief in the resurrection.
The Jews had been taken over by the Greeks. The Greeks were trying to force all the Jews to abandon their own faith and practice the Greek religious customs.
This passage tells of seven brothers with their mother who will not abandon their Jewish faith. They “were arrested and tortured with whips and scourges by the king to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law.”
They are courageous, saying, “We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.” Why do they have this courage? Why will they not abandon their ancestral practices to save their earthly lives? Because they believe in the resurrection where they will be raised up “to live again forever” if they keep the Lord’s ways. This present life means nothing compared to the life to come.
From their witness, we hear “Even the king and his attendants marveled at the young man’s courage, because he regarded his sufferings as nothing.”
Does your belief in the Resurrection affect how you live in this world? It should. You are free to choose to follow the ways of this world but know if you do you will not share in eternal life with God.
God, please give us courage and a strong belief in the Resurrection so that we may follow you in all things, that we be willing to “die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up by him.”
The Sadducees did not accept this. They accepted only what could be found in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. They claimed there was no mention of the Resurrection in the Torah.
Jesus knows otherwise. He points them to the story of the burning bush where God is identified as “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
It is not easy to live a Christian life today. There are those who think our Catholic teaching is out of touch with reality. They do what they want and ridicule Catholic teaching. Catholic teaching is not human teaching. It comes from God.
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father…encourage your hearts and strengthen them” to live in accord with his will.