A Living God
November 20, 2021 (readings)
- Saturday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
- Beth Van de Voorde
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.
Opening Prayer: Good Jesus, you are faithful and you never tire of coming out to meet me. Once more, you open your heart to me in these moments of prayer. I wish to open my heart to you, too. I believe that you have something to say to me today and I tell you once more that I trust in you. And I love you, Jesus. Let me grow in love.
From the Fullness of the Heart: En route to Jerusalem, Jesus was preparing his heart to offer himself to the Father for the redemption of all the world. Meanwhile, the leaders of the people were plotting the very death that awaited him. What a contrast between their hearts—Jesus’ heart filling and overflowing with love while the Pharisees’ hearts were closed in ever more with bitterness. The Pharisees framed a question they thought would trap Jesus and make the promise of eternal life look ridiculous. But Jesus reminded them of who the children of God are—those who hear his word and accept it.
God’s Desires for His Children: The union between man and wife in marriage, faithful and rooted in mutual self-giving, is a symbol of the very love God wishes to offer us. God desires that we be united to him. The Sadducees in this passage saw Jesus as one opposed to their well-being, disrupting their skewed but comfortable order of things. Jesus patiently answered their question, welcoming them even though they were not yet ready to welcome him, extending yet again his hand in friendship, seeking union with them the way he seeks union with us.
Jesus Knows Our Hearts: So great is his desire for friendship with them (us!), that he even answered the question they didn’t ask, the question they kept harbored in their hearts. Sadducees believed neither in the resurrection of the dead, nor spirits, nor the immortality of the soul, but on this score, Jesus set them right. “The dead will rise,” Jesus affirmed, for “he is not God of the dead but of the living.” This proclamation of Jesus should touch our souls, too. It can be easy to pretend he is a dead God, one who was important in past times but who doesn’t really touch our lives today. Not true! Jesus wants to connect with us intimately. He wants to be present, and a part of each day, each moment in our lives.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, you are God of the living and not of the dead. You are alive in my heart, in your Church, in our world today. Though others may be indifferent to you, though I myself often am, today I do not wish to be so. Today, I wish to open my heart to receive your word and welcome your invitation to be more closely united to you.
Resolution: Lord, by your grace I will pause for a moment of prayer during or at the end of my day to reflect on where you have made yourself present. I will thank you for being there and ask you to help me discover your presence anew tomorrow.
For Further Reflection: Take a deeper look at Amoris Laetitia during this year, marking the fifth anniversary of its publication in 2021.
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