I always enjoy the Gospel passages in which the leaders try to trick Jesus. It reminds me of my grade school days, when we tried to do the same to our teachers. How clever we thought we were when we asked the likes of, “If God is all powerful, can God make a rock so big God can’t lift it.”
In today’s Gospel from St. Luke, some Sadducees, “who deny that there is a resurrection,” ask Jesus about the command of Moses that a brother must marry the wife of his decesased brother in order to raise descendants for that brother. What happens the Saducees ask, in a situation where a woman who successively marries seven brothers, as each of her husbands die before her? Since she married all seven, whose wife will she be at the resurrection?
Doubtless the Sadducees thought they had asked Jesus a question he could not answer. I wonder, therefore, what they thought at his response. Jesus 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 guessing many people there had no real idea what he was talking about. Certainly his answer didn’t bring much clarity 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 talked about this a little during the last session of our recent program on the Creed. We say, “I believe in the resurrection of the Body” but I don’t really know what that looks like. 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.