The Sadducees put a question to Jesus about the resurrection. They claim there was no such doctrine in the Torah. Their rivals, the Pharisees, influenced by the Book of Daniel, did believe in the resurrection. In Luke’s gospel Jesus, like the Pharisees, alluded to the teachings of the Torah concerning the resurrection. "That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush...." Even though the Gospels show the Pharisees opposed to Jesus in many areas of faith and practice still, in the first century, Christians and Pharisees were aligned in their teaching about the resurrection of the dead.
Luke opens his account describing the Sadducees’ belief, "… those who denied that there is a resurrection." They pose a question to Jesus. We often ask questions to get information, or understanding about someone. But the Sadducees are not sincerely asking for information from Jesus, nor are they ready to engage in a conversation with him. They are setting a trap, they already have their position on the subject. They want to start a debate and put Jesus on the defensive by posing an absurd example about a widow who has had seven husbands. When she dies, they ask, whose wife will she be in the next life?
The ancient law required that if a man died without leaving an heir his brother was to take the widow as his wife. Thus, the family name would continue and property would stay in the family.
Jesus answers the question by drawing a distinction between this age and the next. Heaven and earth, he argues, are not the same. God’s ways are different from ours. God does not think the way we do; nor does God judge like us. No matter what state a person had in their lifetime, even the lowliest will be ranked with the angels Despite their suffering in this life, he says, "They can no longer die, for they are like angels and they are God’s children, because they are the ones who will rise." Unlike our world, where people are judged by their political, financial, social and educational ranking, in heaven, such rankings will not exist.
There is a religious debate going on in this passage. It can sound very hypothetical to the casual listener. The casual "male listener," that is. But if a woman heard the question posed by the Sadducees it would not sound so theoretical. She, and women in our congregation, would hear of a woman being passed among seven men for the purpose of bearing a child.
In heaven, Jesus says, no such mistreatment, or dehumanization exist. Those treated as inferior in this life will, with everyone else, be loved. Women will no longer be treated as property, nor be considered as inferiors at the will of their male relations, or religious authorities. They will be honored and beloved children of God and will share equally with all the joy and peace God bestows on God’s children.
Jesus ends the debate by saying, "God is not God of the dead, but of the living for to [God] all are alive." All will be new then with God; all will be forgiven; all will be free. There will be no more human power brokers, military brass, strong men over everyone else, etc. Nor will there be sexism, racism, homophobia, or oppression of any sort.
We must do all we can to eliminate suffering of any kind. In the heaven Jesus describes for us today, the God of the living will end how it has always been for so many in this world. Jesus proposes a vision that gives hope to those who are oppressed and suffering. Still, he does not relieve us from the obligations to be instruments of his new life to all, beginning here and now. Why? Because, to repeat, "God is not God of the dead, but of the living for to [God] all are alive." Our mission, by word and deed, is to help others see themselves as children of our living God, who gives life to all who believe.
Jesus has shown by his words and actions that God is the God of the pressed-down and forgotten. God does not forsake anyone facing death, nor does God abandon anyone after death. Here on earth God strengthens the weak and neglected and enables them to walk towards the hope Jesus holds out for all – resurrection. The Sadducees are basing their argument on the notion that the next life is just a continuation of this life. They were wrong and Jesus corrects them. He does not tell them what the future life will be like. He just says that it will be different. What will endure is our relationship with God.
The reading from 2 Maccabees also speaks of resurrection. It does not happen automatically because we have an immortal soul. Resurrection rests on God’s fidelity. God has established a permanent covenant with us and even death cannot destroy it. Maccabees professes that God desires to stay united with us. Again, God is the God of the living. We use metaphors to describe what God has waiting for us. We base them on what we can guess from our present life here: thrones, golden streets, feasts, angelic musicians, God on a throne of high, etc. These are feeble attempts to point to the mysterious reality God has waiting for us. So, we shrug our shoulders and say to God, "I don’t know… but you do."
If that’s our future, what should we be doing in the meanwhile? With the grace God is already giving us we can live as though the new age has already dawned. Because it has! We allow the future to happen in our world now. We should examine how we treat others who don’t have our privilege and opportunities. Stop being exclusionary to those who are different from us. Do our best to raise up and empower "others." Make present in some way, what we are hoping for in our future life with God.
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Brothers and Sisters: May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
What a wonderful supplication Paul offers in these words. It is so easy to forget that all good things come from God and that we, who are made in God’s image, bear hearts made for good deeds and words. As we approach this season of giving and sharing, when good deeds and good words abound, I have a special request for Cathedral’s Door Fund/Ministry.
As you probably are aware the lack of affordable housing is in a crisis in our community and rent prices have exploded. The 2017 Wake County Affordable Housing Plan states, "In 2015, Wake County had an unmet housing need of ~ 56,000 affordable units, due in large part to the fact that low-income households are largely unable to find affordable housing within the County. This gap is likely to expand to as much as 150,000 units in the next 20 years."
Since 2011, when I became the director of outreach, Cathedral’s unique Door Ministry has helped our fellow citizens with $100 to help with past due rents and eviction notices. At that point, people would come to us behind one- or two-months’ rent, usually $600-$900. Now, in 2022, people may still be behind one or two months, but the amount they owe will be anywhere from $1,000-$3,000+. My team and I decided this past September to give $200. The first few weeks were fine with a small number of people coming on Wednesdays, but then the flood gates opened and 20 to 30 people arrived at our Door each week. Many are employed or starting new jobs. Some have had an unforeseen crisis. Some are on fixed incomes. However, we have had to revert to giving $100 again because our funds are depleted.
In keeping with Catholic social teaching on the dignity of the human person, having a place to call home is the most strengthening option for families and individuals. Also, t he lack of affordable housing destabilizes our entire community.
Please consider making a donation to the Door Fund on-line at: https://www.raleighcathedral.org giving or by check payable and mail to: Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral 219 W. Edenton St., Raleigh, NC 27603. Be sure to designate for Door Fund. Thank you, in advance, for your good deed!
Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS,
Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.
From today’s Gospel reading:
"That the dead will rise even
Moses made known in the passage about the bush
God is not God of the dead, but of the living for to God all are alive."
Jesus assures us is that what the Jewish people believed is true: we are in the hands of the living God and even death will not cause God to let go of us. Indeed, death will make our ties to God even stronger.
So we ask ourselves:
Many people say that we need the death penalty in order to have "justice for the victims."
But so many family members of murder victims say over and over that the death penalty is not what they want. It mirrors the evil. It extends the trauma. It does not provide closure. It creates new victims… it is revenge, not justice.
Killing is the problem, not the solution.
----Shane Claiborne, Death Penalty Action's Advisory Board Chairman,
This is a particularly vulnerable time for state and federal prisoners. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of the inmates listed below to let them know we have not forgotten them. If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.
Please write to:
----Central Prison, P.O. 247 Phoenix, MD 21131
Please note: Central Prison is in Raleigh, NC., but for security purposes, mail to inmates is processed through a clearing house at the above address in Maryland.
For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network:http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/
On this page you can sign "The National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty." Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty: http://www.pfadp.org/
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