At the Resurrection, Whose Wife Will That Woman Be?

In today’s Gospel from St. Luke, some Sadducees, “who deny that there is a resurrection,” put a question to Jesus. Citing Moses’ command that a brother must marry the wife of his decesased brother in order to raise descendants for that brother, the Saducees hypothesize a woman who successively marries seven brothers, as each of her husbands die before her. They ask, “at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.”

You can almost see Jesus shaking his head at their confusion in asking the question. He explains that “those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels.”

Although some of the scribes congratulate Jesus for answering well, I’m not entirely sure how much clarity his answer brings about what things look like after the resurrection. I get questioned not infrequently by non-Catholics about what exactly the afterlife will be like. And the truth is that I don’t have a good answer to the question. I pray every week as part of the Creed that “I believe in the resurrection of the Body” but I don’t really know what that looks like. (I’m fairly confident I won’t have the bad knee, heel spurs and other various ailments of this body.) I’m guessing our resurrected bodies will look something like Jesus’ did after his Resurrection, but we don’t really know much about that except that it was hard for people (like Mary Magdalene) to initially recognize him and he could appear inside a locked room. Does that mean it will be hard for us to recognize the resurrected bodies of our loved ones? I don’t know.

For some the uncertainty is a problem. They want to know exactly what it will be (and that it somehow makes sense to them). I’ve decided that this is an area where I can live with not knowing. I dont’ know what life after resurrection looks like, but it is enough for me to know that it means full union with God and others. I don’t know what it will look like, but I trust it will be wonderful.