DAILY GOSPEL REFLECTION: “WHOSE WIFE WILL THAT WOMAN BE?” (Lk 20:27–40).
Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?
For all seven had been married to her.” Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and remarry; but 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; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” Some of the scribes said in reply, “Teacher, you have answered well.” And they no longer dared to ask him anything.
Commentary from the Navarre Bible, St. Luke (with permission)
- 27-40 The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the body or the immortality of the soul. They came along to ask Jesus a question which is apparently unanswerable.
- According to the levirate law (cf. Deut 25: 5ff), if a man died without issue, his brother was duty bound to marry his widow to provide his brother with descendants. The consequences of this law would seem to give rise to a ridiculous situation at the resurrection of the dead.
- Our Lord replies by reaffirming that there will be a resurrection; and by explaining the properties of those who have risen again, the Sadducees’ argument simply evaporates. In this world people marry in order to continue their species: that is the primary aim of marriage. After the resurrection there will be no more marriage, because people will not die any more.
- Quoting Sacred Scripture (Ex 3:2. 6) our Lord shows the grave mistake the Sadducces make, and he argues: God is not the God of the dead but of the living, that is to say, there exists a permanent relationship between God and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who have been dead for years. Therefore, although these just men have died as far as their bodies are concerned, they are alive, truly alive, in God — their souls are immortal — and they are awaiting the resurrection of their bodies.
- See also notes on Mt 22:23-33 and Mk 12:18-27.
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