JUNE 2. Ord time. B. Wk.9 Wed. Mk.12 18-27
Updated: Sep 10
Some Sadducees – who deny that there is a resurrection – came to him and they put this question to him, ‘Master, we have it from Moses in writing, if a man’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, the man must marry the widow to raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first married a wife and then died leaving no children. The second married the widow, and he too died leaving no children; with the third it was the same, and none of the seven left any children. Last of all the woman herself died. Now at the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be, since she had been married to all seven?’
Jesus said to them, ‘Is not the reason why you go wrong, that you understand neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, men and women do not marry; no, they are like the angels in heaven. Now about the dead rising again, have you never read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the Bush, how God spoke to him and said: I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? He is God, not of the dead, but of the living. You are very much mistaken.’
One of the problems Jesus was repeatedly facing was that many of his hearers, especially the Pharisees and Sadducees, wanted any issues or queries explained to them as if the laws on earth continued to apply in heaven; - which was nonsense!
And Jesus, the teacher, pointed this out to them at the outset, when he said; - “You understand neither the scriptures nor the power of God”; - which meant they needed to look to scripture for the answer to their question, and also acknowledge the power of God.
We see an example of their “earthly thinking” in today’s reading where they outlined to Jesus the marriage laws that applied on earth, and then they asked if these same laws would apply in the next life.
This was not an unreasonable question and even today we wonder sometimes if, when we are in heaven our spouse, and close family and friends, will continue to hold a unique and special place for us in eternal life.
Jesus uses this opportunity to point out that, “when they rise from the dead, men and women do not marry; no, they are like the angels in heaven”; - which seems to indicate such close relationships will not continue, as the focus in heaven will be on praising and loving God; - as the angels do!
Because of their refusal to believe in the resurrection the Sadducees did not believe in life after death, so their question was really an attempt to make fun of such a belief; - but Jesus was able to tell them that they did not understand the teachings of scripture.
He then used that scripture; - which they did believe in; - to point out how God spoke directly to Moses; - saying he was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; - to illustrate these Old Testament leaders continued to live on in eternal life!
The message contained in today’s reading is that the duty to Know, Love and Serve God, as spelt out in the Commandments; - is not a duty for earth alone; - but will continue in heaven; - so the Sadducees needed to believe in the Resurrection!
Gospel Acclamation Jn11:25,26
I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord;
whoever believes in me will not die for ever.
First reading Tobit 3:1-11,16-17
Raphael is sent to bring remedy to the house of Tobit
Sad at heart, I, Tobit, sighed and wept, and began this prayer of lamentation:
‘You are just, O Lord,
and just are all your works.
All your ways are grace and truth,
and you are the Judge of the world.
‘Therefore, Lord, remember me, look on me.
Do not punish me for my sins
or for my heedless faults
or for those of my fathers.
‘For we have sinned against you
and broken your commandments;
and you have given us over to be plundered,
to captivity and death,
to be the talk, the laughing-stock and scorn
of all the nations among whom you have dispersed us.
‘Whereas all your decrees are true
when you deal with me as my faults deserve,
and those of my fathers,
since we have neither kept your commandments
nor walked in truth before you;
so now, do with me as you will;
be pleased to take my life from me;
I desire to be delivered from earth
and to become earth again.
For death is better for me than life.
I have been reviled without a cause
and I am distressed beyond measure.
‘Lord, I wait for the sentence you will give
to deliver me from this affliction.
Let me go away to my everlasting home;
do not turn your face from me, O Lord.
For it is better to die than still to live
in the face of trouble that knows no pity;
I am weary of hearing myself traduced.’
It chanced on the same day that Sarah the daughter of Raguel, who lived in Media at Ecbatana, also heard insults from one of her father’s maids. You must know that she had been given in marriage seven times, and that Asmodeus, that worst of demons, had killed her bridegrooms one after another before ever they had slept with her as man with wife. The servant-girl said, ‘Yes, you kill your bridegrooms yourself. That makes seven already to whom you have been given, and you have not once been in luck yet. Just because your bridegrooms have died, that is no reason for punishing us. Go and join them, and may we be spared the sight of any child of yours!’ That day, she grieved, she sobbed, and went up to her father’s room intending to hang herself. But then she thought, ‘Suppose they blamed my father! They will say, “You had an only daughter whom you loved, and now she has hanged herself for grief.” I cannot cause my father a sorrow which would bring down his old age to the dwelling of the dead. I should do better not to hang myself, but to beg the Lord to let me die and not live to hear any more insults.’
This time the prayer of each of them found favour before the glory of God, and Raphael was sent to bring remedy to them both. He was to take the white spots from the eyes of Tobit, so that he might see God’s light with his own eyes; and he was to give Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, as bride to Tobias son of Tobit, and to rid her of Asmodeus, that worst of demons. For it was to Tobias before all other suitors that she belonged by right. Tobit was coming back from the courtyard into the house at the same moment as Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, was coming down from the upper room.