In the Gospel we find the polemic in the Jewish society, at the time of Jesus, regarding life after death -the resurrection. For a part represented by Sadducees death was the end of it all -it’s a sea of darkness and nothingness that followed. On the contrary, Pharisees believed in the resurrection; there was life after death. The polemic is still there in our society too. But how do we move from such futile controversy to find a word of life and hope?
Bible readings 2 Maccabees 7: 1–14 Psalm 17: 1, 5–6, 8, 15 2 Thessalonica 2: 16—3 5 Luke 20: 27–38
Life after death a current question
We just commemorated, the 2nd November, all the faithful departed. For some people, it was an emotional occasion as they remembered their beloved departed, especially those who died recently for whom the wound of their loss is still fresh. We realise then that the question of the resurrection, posed in the Gospel, is not just a dispute between Pharisees and Sadducees but something that touches us to the core even today. Indeed, not only do we think about the lot of our departed, we equally think about what will happen to us after we die.
Resurrection question as a way of life
Believing, or not believing, the resurrection of the dead concerns not just what happens after this life but also one’s attitude in life. When one leads this life as though that’s all there is, the advantage would be living to the fullest, exploiting every possibility and never miss any opportunity. Yet, on the dark side, such a life would be like walking on the road that ends in a cul de sac or dead-end street. A person is very limited in what they can hope for.
On the contrary, believing in the resurrection especially for a Christian, founded on Christ’s victory over death, transforms the whole attitude to life, even the way of living the daily experiences of life. In Jesus, death is no longer an insurmountable block but a gateway to new life in God. The hope for the resurrection enables us to look at the events of life through the prism of the victory of life over death. Despite the dark clouds that may appear at certain times of my life I remain serene in the hope that those dark clouds will not remain forever; one day they will be dissipated, and the sun shall shine again in my life.
So, we can say, belief in the resurrection is a way of life that influences our choices and our actions from the profound depth of our being. In that way, the resurrection becomes a value that gives form to certain culture or manner of living. However, the question is: how firm am I in my belief in the resurrection? Can I stand for it even when it seems absurd to persons around me? That’s the challenge in the first reading.
They refuse to obey the king for greater value
The seven brothers, in the first reading, demonstrate that the belief in the resurrection is not just a doctrine to be obeyed but a value that becomes determinant in the choices one makes in life. It opens one to a positive life style.
By that strange story put before Jesus, about a widow married to seven brothers, shows how resolved Sadducees are not only to refute the resurrection but also to ridicule it. Unfortunately, our life is still full of Sadducees, that is, persons and events that are intent to robe us of hope. Once we are fallen, we hear a voice telling us: that’s all you can rise, you can’t do it. They want to keep us in the lying position, position of the dead. But when we welcome the message of life that Jesus gives us by the victory of the resurrection, then, we know that we are not meant to remain lying down -we are sure of picking ourselves up one day.
Living in hope
So, we pray that the Lord may sustain our hope despite whatever experiences in life that seek to keep us in the position of the dead. In the name of Jesus, we shall not die; we shall live! We believe not only the resurrection of the dead, but also in our resurrection of everyday life.
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