“We are not made for death but eternal life” Reflection for 32 Sunday of the Year
Recently speaking my father who is frail and finding old age difficult, asked the question is there heaven at all? It is a good question for one facing his mortality particularly as many of his peers have died. It is a question young and old ask. Today in the scriptures people are dying and living again and it poses a question of the afterlife. The Sadducees who meet Jesus do not believe in resurrection, new life only comes in their children. Their attitude is to enjoy life, be self sufficient and there is no need for God. Their question about the woman is meant to catch out Jesus and they are only interested in what the woman can achieve. Jesus gives them an answer to their question that she is who she is: a child of the resurrection, an angel of God who is judged worthy of a place in the other world.
Jesus teaches but also bearing witness that he is the resurrection and the life and he had come to offer the new life of God. His message was not acceptable to the Sadducees. Today the Sadducees are alive and well among many Christians and in society today. Many doubt if there is something or someone after death. Their lives are focused on the materialistic, achievements, prestige, fame and fortune and in what one possesses. Yet if it all disappears or fail or they die they are left with who am I? Their lives are ruled by their own desires and cannot see themselves or others as children of God. They can be so blinded that they cannot see the glory of God and life passes them by as it did for the Sadducees. However, their presence can help us clarify why I believe. Am I a child of the world or resurrection?
In the words of Thornton Wilder in his classic the bridge of San Luis Rey:’ he says “there is a land of the living and of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”He is saying that the great intangible, love, is impervious to change or decay. It transcends what the senses can see. Love is the connective key to a world beyond our sight but not beyond our hearts and sometimes those we love and who love us let us know they’ve crossed the bridge.
The words today are reassuring as they remind us that death is not the end, for we believe in a God of the living and not the dead. Jesus is saying to trust him and he has revealed a God of life, our God is a God of the living and he cannot live without giving life to his Son. We have hope in eternal life for God lives to raise us up. Ever since Calvary when the thief beside him cried out, “Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom”, he responded today you will be with me in Paradise. Our hope rests on not anything human, but on the word and power of God. God has made us not for death but eternal life.