The 32nd Sunday of the Year
2 Macc 7:1-2 & 9-14; 2 Thes 2:16 – 3:5; Lk 20:27-38 (year c)
‘Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, approached Jesus …” The Gospels bear witness to the many factions within Judaism at the time of Jesus. The Sadducees, named in today’s Gospel, were distinguished by their rejection of any belief in a resurrection from the dead. Their question, concerning the hypothetical resurrection of a woman who had been pre-deceased by seven husbands, was therefore intended to mock the doctrine of resurrection.
Jesus replied by pointing to the fundamental relationship between God and his people. In their creeds and worship, the tribes of Israel had frequently referred to God as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus therefore argued that, although these founding figures were long since dead, their relationship with God, and that of all the faithful, endured, thereby implying the resurrection. “Now he is God, not of the dead, but of the living: for to him all men are in fact alive.”
The clear understanding of resurrection had emerged over many centuries of Israel’s faith. The Maccabee martyrs were a clear example of a developing belief in the resurrection that would become widespread by the time of Jesus. They faced death and disfigurement in the sure hope that the God who had endowed them with bodily life would restore that life in the resurrection. They chose death rather than infidelity, relying on God’s promise that they would be raised up beyond death.
Our belief in the resurrection is at the very heart of our relationship with God. As human beings, we are not disembodied spirits. We are flesh and blood: a complex humanity that feels, weeps and rejoices. In the fullness of time the Father revealed himself and entered into relationship with us through his Son, the Word made flesh. In the words of St John, God became, in Jesus, that which we have heard, seen and touched with our own hands. Jesus, in his divinity and his humanity, is the very foundation of our relationship with the Father.
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