Once Jesus arrives in Jerusalem the three synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew and Luke) give accounts of discussions and arguments that Jesus has with the religious leaders. These exchanges testify to the growing hostility of the Jewish leaders to Jesus. Our passage reports a discussion with the Sadducees, a group of Jews who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead.
Ideas about the after-life developed only slowly during Old Testament times, and received a significant boost at the time of the persecution of the Jewish faith in the second century BC and the subsequent Maccabean revolt. Our first reading narrates the martyrdom of seven brothers at this time and their strong faith in the resurrection.
Jesus is quick to point out that the life of the resurrection is quite different from earthly life. Above all, death will not bring this risen life to an end. He goes on to refute the position of the Sadducees in relation to the resurrection. They had sought justification from Moses. Jesus in his turn refers to the vision of the burning bush which Moses saw on Mount Horeb (Exodus 3). The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is God of the living, the God of the resurrection, the God who raises human beings from death. That God is indeed the God of the resurrection will be demonstrated in the events that will now unfold in Jerusalem.
Do I trust in the Christian hope that God’s care and power go beyond death?
Do I respect the life of every human being?
Let us pray for those who live without hope.
Let us pray for all our deceased brothers and sisters.