32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): Death Will Be No More
(Adults, you could begin by reading the scripture passage to your child. Alternatively, read through the reflection, pausing for your child to reflect on what is being said.)
In the Gospel for this Sunday, some people called the Sadducees come to Jesus with a question. Their question is not a real question. Actually, it is a confusing story about a husband and wife who have no children. Why would the Sadducees want to confuse Jesus?
Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus and asked him a question...
St. Luke tells us that the Sadducees say there is no resurrection. We remember that the Sadducees meet Jesus before he dies and rises to new life. No one has seen someone full of the Risen life of God yet. But the Sadducees have already decided that Risen life is ridiculous. They think that resurrection is impossible, even for God. They want to show Jesus how ridiculous resurrection is, so they tell him this story.
Now there were seven brothers...
Okay, already we know this will be confusing if the story has so many people!
the first married, and died childless
If this was a story about real people, we know that this would be very sad. The wife would be a widow missing her husband very much. In Jesus' time, women could not work for money so the woman with no husband or grown-up sons to take care of her would become extremely poor and could die. Death is a huge problem. The Sadducees are not concerned about this being a sad story. It is supposed to make Jesus confused, not sad.
So the Sadducees continue their story. They remind Jesus that the Word of God given to Moses says to protect the widow from the problem of death. The next logical person to take care of the widow is her husband's brother. We remember, though, that there are six more brothers!
then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died.
Their story of sadness goes on. Each of the seven men—the first husband and then each of his six brothers—marries this poor woman, and then each of them die, and she never gets to have any children. Finally, she dies, too. But even if we think this story is sad, the Sadducees are not interested in sorrow. Finally, they ask their question that is meant to confuse Jesus.
In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.”
Remember, the Sadducees think that life ends in death. See, they are saying, life after death is ridiculous; it does not make sense. If all of them are alive, the woman would be wife to each one of the brothers at the same time, and that is just not right. How would that be good? You cannot sort this out, they say to Jesus, because it just does not happen. Impossible.
But Jesus knows that they have missed an important point. The Word of God says to protect the widow in this life because in this life death is a huge problem. In this life, death is a huge sorrow. But the Sadducees do not yet know that death is also a change and a new beginning. Jesus tells them,
in the resurrection from the dead [people] neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore
Jesus agrees—their question does not make sense. It does not make sense because in the resurrection there will be no longer be a need for the question!
Will there be a need to protect a woman from the problem of death by marrying her over and over when there will be no more death?
In the resurrection, will wives become widows?
In the fullness of life, will children become orphans?
When the Kingdom of God is complete, will there be sorrow, pain, tears?
These Sadducees are not thinking about the sorrow of their story. They tell the story to be clever. Jesus shows them that they are not thinking about the ways of God. God is the God of life—abundant life—in God there will be no more death.