7 June
Mk 12:18-27

Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus and asked him a question, ‘Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first married and, when he died, left no children; and the second married her and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; none of the seven left children. Last of all, the woman herself died. In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had married her.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, “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 quite wrong.’

Just like yesterday, there is a cunning question, a deceitful ‘why?’ in today’s Gospel.  If you thought that questions were always neutral requests for information, these passages show you otherwise.  The Sadducees didn't believe in life after death; but here they are, asking a question, the point of which is to reduce such a belief to absurdity.  But Jesus didn't tailor his answer to please them: the dead, he said, will be “like the angels in heaven.”  He knew that the Sadducees didn't believe in the existence of angels, any more than they believed in a next life!  It’s a lesson in how to deal with dishonest questions: don't give up your ground, don't backtrack. 

How does one hold belief in the resurrection?  With the mind alone?  If so, then it would be no more than what Pascal called “the big bet” (le grand pari).  It goes as follows: You can't really lose by believing in it, for if there is life after death, you will not be disappointed; but if there is not, again you will not be disappointed – because to experience disappointment you would have to exist!  But Jesus did not come to proclaim the Safe Bet; he came to proclaim the Good News.  When he said as he died on the cross, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” he was not taking a bet on the resurrection; he was entrusting his whole being, body and soul, to the Father.  Unless I am trying to do that, as far as I am able, I don’t really believe in the resurrection – neither that of Jesus nor of anyone else. 


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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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