Marriage and the Resurrection

Mark 12: 18-27
Tb 3: 1-11a,16-17a / Ps 25

Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?
(Mark 12: 24)

Cling to this hope, God’s Word we trust:
We still live on after we’ve died;
Death has no claim, Christ lives in us,
We’ll rise with Jesus glorified.

Then the Sadducees came to Jesus with a question: “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?” Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!” (Mark 12: 18-27)

Reflection

The Sadducees were an elite group of Jews whose high social status gave them the privilege of maintaining the temple in Jerusalem. They claimed to be the descendants of Zadoc, the high-priest during the reigns of Kings David and Solomon (1Kgs 1:38). They did not believe there was life after death, and their idea of immortality was in perpetuating their name through their progeny. They used the old Levirate law of marriage (Lev.25:5) wherein a brother was obliged to marry the widow of his deceased brother to propagate his lineage. Their “case study” was a ridiculous attempt to depict a marital quandary in heaven. Our Lord simply informed them, “When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” Then He cited a passage in the book of Exodus, 3:6 as proof that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were alive in heaven, even though they had long been dead during the time of Moses. Their lack of discernment also revealed their ignorance of Scriptures.

In the book of Genesis, after the great flood, God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fertile and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen.9:1). And from the sons of Noah (Shem, Ham and Japheth) the whole earth was populated. In those early times men took multiple wives to propagate their kind. Clearly, this was the only purpose of marriage. Even in the present day, its primary purpose is for the procreation of children, even as multiple partners are no longer the norm, ever since fidelity in marriage was instituted by Jesus Christ. Since nobody dies in heaven, propagation of the species is not needed there. Nor intimate relationships, because even the greatest love on earth pales in comparison to the divine love that we will all experience when we are resurrected in heaven.

The Lord’s message for us in today’s Gospel is about hope in the resurrection. But this hope can only be sustained if we have knowledge of Scriptures, and faith in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. There are still many mysteries in life that confound us, the reason why we need to meditate constantly on the sacred texts of the Bible. It is teeming with the wisdom of the ages, written by holy men who were inspired by God. But understanding the Scriptures also needs the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If we put our faith in His power, He will give us the gift of understanding, and through this grace come to see the completion of God’s plan in the Resurrection. “We will know the truth, and the truth will set us free.” (John 8:32)

Dear Lord, sustain us in our faith in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and in our hope in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting to come. Amen.

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