Sunday Readings: 2 Maccabees 7.1-2,9-14; 2 Thessalonians 2.16-3.5; Luke 20.27-38
Moses in the passage about the bush showed that the dead rise again when he called Yahweh the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not God of the dead but of the living. All are alive to God (Luke 20.37-38).
The temple courtyards are Jerusalem’s central public space. Jesus hangs out there engaging other teachers, priests, and leaders in debating the hot religious topics of the day, in Sunday’s gospel, resurrection.
When some Sadducees argue resurrection is ridiculous, Jesus takes them on. The law obligates a surviving brother to marry his widowed sister-in-law if the brother dies without fathering an heir. What if seven brothers die one after the other, each marrying the widowed sister-in-law? The Sadducees ask, “Whose wife will she be in the resurrection?”
Jesus shows himself a skilled rabbi, able to interpret and argue from Israel’s scriptures. In Jewish tradition, learning is communal. Students question, argue, debate with one another. Jesus dismisses the Sadducees’ assumption that life in the resurrection will be identical to life on earth. He insists this life will not depend on marriage and biological immortality. Then he cites a verse in the story of the burning bush in Exodus 3, where God speaks to Moses, saying, “I am the God of your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Where is the argument for resurrection in these words? God’s words to Moses show that these ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are alive to God centuries later, and therefore must have been raised from the dead. Jesus’ argument convinces his audience.
To see Jesus debate challenges us in our times to engage in constructive conversation. Some of us get shushed to preserve friendships and family relationships. But democracy and Catholic social teaching require thinking together, hearing more than ourselves, and learning the needs of people left out. How else can we seek the common good?
What points of view besides your own have you learned to take seriously?