32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
6-9 year olds
In this week's Gospel, some people called the Sadducees come to Jesus with a story. It is a confusing story about a husband and wife who have no children. If this was a story about real people, we know that that they would be very sad. Then, in the story, the husband dies. The wife would then be extremely sad. The Sadducees tell this story, reminding Jesus that the Word of God given to Moses says to protect the widow (the woman whose husband died). In those days women did not work for money and so, the woman who had no husband or grown-up sons to take care of her would become extremely poor and could die. The next logical person to take care of the widow is her husband's brother. He marries her and they have no children. The story of sadness goes on. Each of 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.
The Sadducees think that life ends in death. They tell this story in order to prove to Jesus and everyone listening that life after death does not make sense. So they say, "In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her." See, they are saying, life after death doesn't make sense--if they all are alive, she would be wife to each one of them at the same time--and how could that be good? You can't sort that out, they are saying, because it doesn't happen.
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. But the Sadducees do not yet know that death is 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
Their question to Jesus does not make sense because 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? Will there be sorrow, pain, tears?
These Sadducees were not thinking about the sadness of their story. They told 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.