You Were Made to Be Happy With God Forever in Heaven, Body and Soul
User’s Guide to Sunday, Nov. 6
In the readings today, Jesus leads the charge against those who deny the resurrection from the dead, and the seven brothers and their mother from the first reading bring up the rear. Let’s take a look at what we are taught.
Ridicule of the Resurrection
The Gospel opens with the observation, “Some Sadducees, who deny there is a resurrection, came forward and put [a] question to Jesus.” They then propose a hypothetical situation in which a woman is married seven times, to brothers who successively die, having no children by any of them. We’re supposed to laugh, according to these Sadducees, and conclude that the idea of resurrection is absurd.
Sadducees rejected the resurrection because they only accepted the first five books of the Bible — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy — and claimed that the resurrection of the dead was not taught in these first five books. But Jesus notes that God (in Exodus) identifies himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, all of whom have been dead some 400 years. Since he is not a God of the dead but of the living, how can he call himself their God if they are dead? So they are alive to God.
Rejoice, for your loved ones are alive before God! To this world they may seem dead, but Jesus tells us firmly and clearly that they live. And we, who will also face physical death, will live on. Let the world ridicule this, but hear what Jesus says and how he easily dispatches them. Though the idea is ridiculed, the resurrection is real.
Resplendence of the Resurrection
Jesus also sets aside the absurd hypothetical scenario that the Sadducees pose, by teaching earthly realities, like marriage, cannot be simplistically projected into heaven. Don’t overthink the passage into meaning that married couples will not be married but will be like strangers in heaven. Heaven does not destroy Godly relationships of earth — it perfects them. The saints in heaven live beyond earthly limits. Scripture says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). We have a glory waiting for us beyond imagining. Consider your greatest happiness, then multiply it by a trillion, and you are still not even close to understanding the glory that awaits.
Response to the Resurrection
What difference does the resurrection make other than to give us joy if we meditate upon it?
To see that answer, consider today’s first reading, in which the seven brothers are willing to accept torture and death rather than violate God’s Law. If there is a great reward awaiting those who remain faithful, then we will endure anything to get there.
Notice how the vision of heaven inspires them to stand firm in their refusal to deny their faith: “We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors. … The king and his attendants marveled at the young man’s courage, because he regarded his sufferings as nothing” (2 Maccabees, 7:2,9, 12). What athlete would discipline his body as severely as he does without the deep motivation of the satisfaction and rewards that will come upon meeting his goals?
Who of us will endure the trials of faith if we are not deeply imbued with the vision of glory and deeply desirous of its fulfillment, no matter the cost? So, meditate on heaven often. Ask God for an ever-deepening desire for him and the good things that await you in heaven.
Long for heaven. It will not disappoint!