Thirty-Second Sunday, Year C
Those worthy to attain the resurrection can no longer die for they are like angels
In today's Gospel there is an encounter between Jesus and some Sadducees. The Sadducees were literal interpreters of the written Law of Moses and are described as opponents to the belief in resurrection.
According to the Law, if a man died without producing an heir, the man's brother should marry his wife. The Sadducees use this as an example to challenge belief in the resurrection because it wouldn’t be possible to be married to more than one wife in the life to come.
The Sadducees argument against resurrection is based on the limits of earthly existence. What Jesus reveals is that the risen life is not earthly life prolonged; it is a new experience in which we would share forever in the life of God. We will become like angels! Indeed, Moses himself implied the reality of resurrection when he spoke of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who were all alive to God.
However, what Moses saw only anticipated what was to be accomplished by Jesus. What we must understand is that Jesus’ resurrection is more than a spiritual reality – the resurrection means the transformation of our bodies as well. This is so because to be human is to rely on our bodily sensations such as smell, touch, taste, sight and hearing. It makes no sense that we somehow become only spirit.
What we do assert about resurrection is that there is both continuity and discontinuity. In every Gospel account of the Resurrection Jesus is at first unrecognisable. It is only through Jesus’ personal interaction with his disciples that they recognise him – i.e., they experience the same Person, but radically transformed.
So it will be for us – continuity, meaning we will recognise each other as the same person – and discontinuity. Who we are as persons will be transformed. In nature transformation is always from something less than wonderful to something spectacular such as a caterpillar to butterfly. Don’t you think that this rule will apply to our transformation at our resurrection? The lowdown is: no sickness nor suffering; agility – our glorified body will obey our soul with the greatest ease and speed of movement; and we will be beautiful and radiant!
So, what a consolation it is to hear Jesus affirm the resurrection as a fact. He was to undergo it himself. His guarantee was made good by the events of Easter Sunday. Resurrection is our destiny and its reality should shape our lives. We are the ‘Easter people.’ We don’t know how it will come about. But we believe. Even in this life resurrection has begun thanks to the love of our God who sent his Son to live, die and rise that we may live, die and rise with Him. Amen.