RESURRECTION? PLAN ON IT!
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time ©
My dear encountered couples:
As married couples, what lies ahead for you? What does your future hold? The only things sure in this world, they say, are death and taxes. The first one to make that little remark was probably trying to be funny. Do you suppose it was one of those standup comics or a wise remark from someone very observant?
Well, experience teaches – it’s a fact. Those who defy death end up six feet under as surely as those who accept it gracefully. Those who refuse to pay taxes end up in jail. Today, our readings are trying to convince people that there is something in the next life as certain as death and taxes in this one. Resurrection!
The three young brothers in our first reading, being put to death along with their four other brothers and mother by the king’s representative of the time, had these things to say as they were dying. “You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.” “Putting his tongue and hands out to be cut off, another of the young men said, ‘It was from Heaven that I received these; for the sake of God’s laws I disdain them; from him I hope to receive them again.” And as the third was dying, he said, “It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up by him; but for you, there will be no resurrection to life.”
Jesus, of course, in our gospel for today quiets the Sadducees when they try to make the resurrection belief seem ridiculous. “At the resurrection, whose wife will this woman be who was married seven times?” Jesus answered in this way for all who deny the resurrection and life hereafter. “The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry or are given in marriage. They can no longer die for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise - even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called out ‘Lord,’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
Jesus is not really trying to prove the resurrection. He is simply using Scripture to quote Moses whom the Sadducees regarded as the greatest prophet ever to walk the earth. Jesus was trying to point out that the resurrection of the dead is as certain as death and taxes. And he was not trying to be funny. As to which of the seven husbands the woman would belong, Jesus dismissed that as nonsense by saying, life after death will be as different from life on earth as human beings are different from angels.
Let us examine what the third of the dying brothers in our first reading had to say. “For you,” he told the king’s representative, “there will be no resurrection to life.” He was not saying the man would not rise. It was that he would not rise to life.
Our belief, which is in accordance with the story Jesus told of the Last Judgment (Mt.25/31), is that everybody will rise. Some will rise to an everlasting life of happiness with God and his angels in heaven; the rest will rise to everlasting death with the devil and his angels in hell.
Just like some people on this earth are in circumstances that do not seem like really living, life in hell is closer to death than to life. When the young man told the king’s representative, “For you, there will be no resurrection to life,” he knew what he was talking about. The man would experience after his resurrection an ongoing, everlasting death. How would you like to repeatedly experience dying over and over again and again? Sounds like what some of those souls in haunted house stories go through.
I am sure no one needs to convince you that you pay taxes. You pay a sales tax every time you buy something. Not to mention income tax, property tax, gas tax, entertainment tax, luxury tax, prize winning and gambling winnings taxes, etc, etc, etc. And I am sure I do not have to convince you that you will someday die. Making jokes about death which we tend to do about anything that disturbs us, will not keep it from happening. The Sadducees were trying to make fools out of anyone who believed in a resurrection. I wonder what those guys are thinking about it this very minute.
When will the resurrection happen? Will we have to wait until all life ends on earth? When the Jurassic age repeats itself and dinosaurs step on all of us? Or the bomb drops and only apes survive? Maybe the sun will burn out and we will all freeze to death.
Some theorize the resurrection takes place individually for each of us at the time of our death. That we don’t have to wait around for another body, but that we get one in the blink of an eye after we die. As we suspect Mary, the Mother of Jesus, has her body now, we hope we get our new body immediately on arrival in eternity. I sure hope mine turns out looking better the second time around than it did the first. Tall, dark, and handsome, with a few bulging muscles in the right places would be nice.
Whatever happens to us, and whenever, we need not worry. For our faith in Christ and our effort to walk in his footsteps guarantees us life after death. A life with no more tears, no more sorrows, no more worries, no more pimples and wrinkles. Just happiness followed by more happiness.
The brothers and their mother were able to remain faithful to God through an horrendous, torturous death because of their belief in the resurrection. Jesus did the same. Now it is our turn to face whatever life throws our way. Remember when it does, it will soon be over. And to the victor goes the spoils attained by Jesus Christ. Your eternity will be as good as good can get. Start enjoying the thought of that right now.