November 10, 2013 - 32nd Sunday - Ordinary Time, Year C
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
They came to Jesus snickering. They were sure that they were going to catch him with his own words.
Why hadn’t they thought of this before?
The question was about life and death. But the real issue was about resurrection. And they had decided among themselves that there was no life after death.
They reasoned that the consequences of life after death were ridiculous, totally absurd. I mean, where would you put all those people? How would you feed them?
They had found an example that would work.
They though they were so clever.
The example was a poor woman who, seven times in succession, embraced a dying husband, only to see him depart before any children were born.
They want to know what is going to happen after her death and resurrection and the resurrection of her seven husbands?
Who is going to be her husband in the resurrection? How are they going to manage that, a woman with seven husbands?
They were laughing before they had even finished asking the question, knowing that he would not be able to answer.
They thought they had him trapped.
He didn’t even answer their question. It was absurd, so he overlooked it. Instead of answering, he asked them a question.
He asked them about four people who went before them:
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses.
He asked them:
Do you really think those men of God died and were forgotten?
Do you really think God made them, loved them, called them to follow and then, in the end, allowed them to die and disappear into nothingness?
Do you really think God, who loved them so much, would have forgotten those who even you remember?
Are you trying to tell me that God would forget them?
So the Sadducees wind up standing before Jesus speechless and humiliated.
Why? Because they had tried to manipulate the truth; they had underestimated the power of the Divine Word of God.
They had attempted to be sneaky, knowing what they were doing was wrong, but figuring they were so clever they would get away with it.
They attempted to use the Sacred Scriptures for their own evil devices.
Jesus makes it clear that the Word of God is not to be used to win an argument or to advance one’s agenda.
Dei Verbum, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, from the Second Vatican Council says,
“Sacred Scripture is the speech of God, the Word of God, as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.”
We believe that the texts from our Sacred Scriptures which we proclaim here week after week, year after year, were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Saint Paul, in the second reading, reminds us that our Scripture is the inspired Word of God and points out its function: It is useful for teaching and correcting so that we might attain holiness.
When we play with Scripture, we play a very dangerous game.
If we use the Word of God for any other reason than to speak truth, if we use it to score points in an argument, to control and manipulate people, to consolidate our authority, or to intimidate and shame…
…then we are no better than the devil who used Scripture to a similar end once in a desert conversation with Jesus.
This should make us cautious.
The Word of God is alive. The Word of God is powerful. The Word of God is active. The Word of God is meant for our hearing.
The Word of God speaks to our hearts calling us into an ever deeper relationship with the God of life, with the God who raised Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses from the dead.
If we allow the Word of God into our lives, into our hearts, then we come to understand and to believe that our God is not a God of the dead. Our God is the God of life.
They came to Jesus snickering, thinking they already knew best.
Let us come to Jesus today, with humility, with open hearts, hoping, praying that God’s Word will change our lives.