Sunday, Nov. 10, is the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C).
Nov. 11 is St. Martin of Tours’ feast day — and also Veterans Day. Search YouTube for the Apostleship of Prayer’s video on St. Martin that connects both.
2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14; Psalm 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5; Luke 20:27-38 or 20:27, 34-38
Oddly, Amy Adams and Cat Stevens both came to mind when we read this week’s readings.
In the Gospel, Jesus answers an objection about the resurrection and marriage. "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," says Jesus. "They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise."
Amy Adams has starred in movies we have seen recently — The Muppets, Enchanted, Man of Steel — and we recently learned she was raised Mormon.
We have known very few Mormons in our lives, but we vividly remember a visit with one Mormon family who we think wanted to convert us. On their wall was a sign that said, "Our marriage is forever."
It was either a harmless piece of well-meaning sentiment or it was an expression of the Mormon doctrine of "celestial marriage," in which Latter-Day Saints are wedded for here and hereafter.
Human love is a beautiful thing, and we love each other very much, but we heartily reject "forever marriage."
Marriage for eternity may be sentimentally appealing, but if you think about it practically, it loses its charm. Marriage for a lifetime requires effort and sacrifice that too many people find impossible. Amy Adams’ family rejected Mormonism when her parents were divorced.
The fact is: No human being is enough to satisfy another human being. We were made for Someone who will put up with our weaknesses while perfecting our virtues. The only one who will do that is God.
When Tom and April see each other in heaven, they will be happy to see one another. The very God who invented human marriage to satisfy our need for love and connection invented heaven to perfectly fulfill us. And God also chose precisely a wedding feast to illustrate heaven’s joy.
"Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full," says the Psalm. We will find out what that means if we are "deemed worthy to attain" heaven. Our family will still be our family, but our family ties will mean less to us than the full joy we have in God.
Cat Stevens, who has been in our music rotation during dish-washing time at our house, also comes to mind with these readings. One of our favorite songs of his is Miles From Nowhere, a passionate appeal to seek God — but one with a significant flaw. He talks about climbing the mountain of faith at death, then adds: "Lord, my body has been a good friend. But I won’t need it when I reach the end!" Oh yes he will, we tell the kids.
The belief that your body is something you need on earth but that you shed in the hereafter is a kind of opposite to the Mormon forever-marriage problem. Celestial marriage overhumanizes heaven, whereas a bodiless heaven dehumanizes it.
That’s why today’s first reading is so helpful. It tells the story of Jews willing to die rather than eat pork, and in doing so, it gives a great testimony to faith in the resurrection of the dead.
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas,
where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.