Isn’t the resurrection is like this?
When we think there’s nothing anymore left
but then new life emerges from what appears to be a dead seed
The month of November we commemorate all the dead. But this memorial shouldn’t be separated from the Solemnity of All Saints. This is because it’s not the loss that marks the commemoration but rather we pray so that our dead may also join the saints in the glory of heaven. That is our hope which comes from our faith in the resurrection. Nevertheless, that does not clear away the questions and fears which may inhabit us face the reality of death. What happens after I die? Where do I go? Is there really a resurrection? This Sunday’s Gospel deals with the same question.
- 2 Maccabees 7: 1-14
- 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3 5
- Luke 20: 27-38
Resurrection in contempt
In the Gospel the Sadducees attempt, in a subtle way, to ridicule the belief in the resurrection. They come up with a funny story of a woman who in her life time got married to seven brothers, one after the other. At the resurrection who, of the brothers, will be her husband? In its form it looks like Sadducees are dealing with a question of marriage after the resurrection. The fact is that Sadducees can’t ever imagine marriage after death for they don’t believe in the resurrection. Then, why the question? Precisely, they want to lay a trap against Jesus in order to conclude that believing in the resurrection is pure absurdity.
Traditional Jewish outlook on life after death
The belief in the resurrection came as later development in the Jewish religion just a few centuries before Jesus. So, what was the Jewish view on life and death?
Jews believed that once you die, that’s the end. After death both the good and the bad found themselves in the same place; a kind of dark underworld, cut from life, light, relationships. It’s a place of non-existence called sheol. Hence, one would look forward to the happiness of having many children, good health, wealth and success in his undertakings. Once he dies, that’s the end. But that provoked soul-searching questions.
Rebellion in and of faith
Some reflective people posed questions, how possible is it that God who created us and saved our fathers from our enemies just abandon us forever in the dust of death? From there we have new affirmations that reject sheol.
“…you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand (Ps 16:10-11).
Another affirmation is in the book of Job: “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet, in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes –I, and not another.” (Jb 19:25-27).
Thanks to such confidence in the loving faithfulness of God we have, like in today’s first reading, Jews who are not afraid of death any more. They are assured of new life in God. “One cannot but choose to die at the hands of men and to cherish the hope that God gives of being raised again by him.” (2 Macc 7:14).
But doubt persists about the resurrection
This hope in life after death wasn’t embraced by everyone. That’s why at the time of Jesus there were two positions; one affirming the resurrection and the other opposed, like Sadducees who in this Sunday’s Gospel go as far as to invent a story just to treat the resurrection with contempt. The resurrection of the dead remains a boggling question in the mind of many people, both believers and unbelievers.
Even today there are people who think like Sadducees: the resurrection as piece of nonsense for those who can’t reconcile themselves to the idea that one day they will have to die. However, as Christians we profit from such questions and remarks to reflect and deepen on what we believe.
Belief in resurrection as act of trust
Indeed, the questions and remarks we may hear about the resurrection just expose the anxiety, the fear, the uncertainty and the dark cloud hovers on human person in face of his death in the absence of reliable support.
But when you confront such questions, anchored in God the author life, fear transforms into joy of assured hope for life. Believing in the resurrection becomes only an act of trust in God who is victorious over death. As the pope Francis rightly puts it: “…If my life has been a path with the Lord, of trust in his immense mercy, I will be prepared to accept the last moments of my earthly existences as the definitive trustful abandonment in his receiving hand, in waiting to contemplate him face to face” (General Audience, Nov 27, 2013). Ours is the God of the living, Jesus assures us, and not of the dead. And what else do you expect from him, if not life?
Resurrection begins today, not after death
In the resurrection we hope for the transformation of our life in God. Thanks to our faith, this transformation is already in process. This resurrection is not something we await only after dearth; rather, it’s a new life in Christ that a Christian already lives here on earth. That’s why John speaks of eternal life as nothing other than knowing the true God and his Christ whom he sent (cf. Jn 17:3).
Like anyone else, we are confronted with suffering: illness, death or any challenges of life, yet, in our hope we are strengthened by the awareness that we belong to the winning team –the author of life himself. That gives us the resistance and the resilience like that proved by the seven brothers in the first reading.
Missionaries by our life in hope
In this sense, believing in the resurrection goes beyond a mere profession by words of the Creed. It’s the entire life of a person that radiates in the present this hope of eternal life. So, it’s no use defending by cheap polemic what I believe, instead, I should ask myself: how much does my faith in the resurrection influence my actions, decisions and the way I relate with others today?
I leave you with challenging words of Nietzsche, a known sceptical philosopher, who says: “I might believe in the Redeemer, if His followers looked more redeemed.” We might as well say, I will believe in the resurrection if Christians looked more resurrected. It’s up for you and I to announce the joy of resurrection by our witness of life.
(If you believe in the hope of new life in God, don’t just leave without sharing this word to others so that they may also share the joy of the same hope).
Similar recent posts
Homily for the Solemnity of All Saints: In Christ, Yes We Can!
Homily for 31st Sunday C. Zacchaeus come down, beloved son
Homily: 30th Sunday C, Ordinary Time. Humble Prayer