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They Had It Made…

On the Gospel of Luke 20:27-38

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. They were the political and religious elite of Palestine in Jesus’ day. When I was younger, I lived in Jerusalem for a time, and I remember one day standing in the ruins of the house of a famous Sadducee called Caiaphas. I learned something that day about the Sadducees that is relevant here; they thought they had it made! The house was huge, and theirs was a life of luxury, comfort, and ease.

It suited their comfortable way of life not to believe in the resurrection of the dead, because with that, there’s the belief in judgement, which would hold them accountable for their actions. The Gospel today says that the blessed life is for “those who are judged worthy”. Jesus here is inviting all of us, as he invited the Sadducee, to allow God to be born in our soul, which means that we must allow a radical change of heart and embrace the gospel. So we do not yet have it made, we must be “judged worthy” first.

The temptation faced by the Sadducees of Jesus’ day, is the same one each of us faces: to worship a god of our own making who never challenges us to live the radical life of the gospel. Such a god, happily approves each and every one of our whims and desires. It is the temptation to say there’s no resurrection, and to settle for happiness on our own terms, living a life of mediocrity when we are called to so much more!

What is also apparent from the gospel, is that the Sadducee is only rejecting what he thinks is eternal life. He is rejecting what he does not understand. His notion of life after the resurrection of the dead is entirely inadequate; he believes it to be merely a continuation of what life is already like, he thinks the resurrection of the dead will mean a resurrection of his marriage problems! No wonder he doesn’t want to believe in the resurrection!

If we truly understood the reality of what Jesus is offering us, we’d be fools to say no. What He is offering us, is nothing less than Himself and a share in the life of the Trinity itself. We will be perfect like the angels, being Gods’ children, and so we will never die. No amount of earthly wealth, presige, or power could ever match that, and that is what Jesus is communicating to both the Saducee and to us.

For the Sadducees’ God, and our God, is not a dead God, nor is He a God who looks down on us for a few decades only to forget us when we die. Our God, is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. He is very much alive and He wants us to be truly alive as well. If we live in Him, He will live in us, and we will be the “same as the angels”, and truly “children of God”.

Some Sadducees — those who argue that there is no resurrection — approached him and they put this question to him, ‘Master, Moses prescribed for us, if a man’s married brother dies childless, the man must marry the widow to raise up children for his brother. Well then, there were seven brothers; the first, having married a wife, died childless. The second and then the third married the widow. And the same with all seven, they died leaving no children. Finally the woman herself died. Now, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be, since she had been married to all seven?’ Jesus replied, ‘The children of this world take wives and husbands, but those who are judged worthy of a place in the other world and in the resurrection from the dead do not marry because they can no longer die, for they are the same as the angels, and being children of the resurrection they are children of God. And Moses himself implies that the dead rise again, in the passage about the bush where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is God, not of the dead, but of the living; for to him everyone is alive.
Luke 20:27-38

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