New Testament Eucharistic Readings for Sunday of Proper 27: Year C
2nd Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17 Luke 20:27-38
“But [Jesus] said, “those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.” (Luke 20:35 – 36)
The first thing Jesus does is to inform the Sadducees, these priests of the Temple, that even they neither know nor understand scripture. This makes me wonder about how much we of today, lay and clergy alike, really understand our ancient writings. It may be that some whole denominations are based on Biblical misunderstanding. It may also be that no single Christian denomination has the correct and complete understanding of where God is leading us. Each one of us must do the best we can to walk by faith and not by sight.
It has only been about half of the Church’s existence that the Church adopted the human institution of marriage as a sacrament, and this sacramental rite has muscled its way against other existing sacraments like ordination whereby clergy in some denominations were not permitted to be married. Perhaps some of us still neither know nor understand the scriptures.
I have been a married man for most of my life. I don’t know what it would be like to not be partnered with someone. I was never “given” in marriage like children are in some places, but married of my own free will and accord. So to hear Jesus say that that kind of relationship is over in the next life and will be different in the “age to come,” is hard for me to understand. He said, “Those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage.” Okay, but I still want it.
In at least two movies I have heard some war hero, who was about to give his life for the sake of others, say to those he was rallying for a final fight that he was leading, “Do you want to live forever?” As I watch these movies I silently respond, “Yes.” So when I hear Jesus say, “They can no longer die,” it appeals to me very much.
Eternal life is what I am looking forward to. Yes Jesus, I want to be like an angel. And I know that this outcome is not based on my effort or worth, but rather, on your judgment of my heart. Anselm, early twelfth century Archbishop of Canterbury, said that we should first believe that we might later understand. Therefore, I don’t understand in order that I might believe; rather, I believe in order that I might later understand. I pray to you, Lord God, “Cleanse the thoughts of my heart by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit that I may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your Holy Name through Jesus Christ my Lord, in this life, and in the next, for all eternity. Amen.”
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John