Life after death has always been an "unknown" to mankind and the unknown is our enemy. There is a built-in sense of fear and uncertainty that accompanies the fact that we do not know "the day nor the hour." It's hard to plan for a surprise or the unexpected. We ask questions about the resurrection because we want reassurance that there is a place of unending joy, freed from this world’s pain and sadness. We look for help to reinforce our faith as we face the end of our lives. We try to fill in the blanks, drawing from daily life or from our imaginations and try to paint a picture of what’s ahead. The Gospel concepts of resurrection and new life speak to these basic longings. We all sense this kind of impotence when it comes to our future health or other critical circumstances. It's easier to live for the day, enjoy this world to the full and try to make life as comfortable as possible.
The Sadducees were people like that. Since they didn't hold to a belief in resurrection they made this world the source of all their energy. So they pose an imaginary situation to Jesus: seven brothers married the same woman, had no child and all seven died. The Sadducees ask, in the next life, “whose wife will that woman be?
But, really, what do they care about relationships in the next life? They already have their answer to the question they put to Jesus. They do not believe in the resurrection. They're just looking for ways to find objections with Jesus and discredit him, and to show that anyone else who believes in an afterlife is foolish too.
But Jesus' message was not meant to prove theological matters to just a few Sadducees. His audience was, and is a community of believers. He simply declares that there is a profound difference between this age and the next.
We are a people of hope. We are a people of faith. We have hope and faith in the promise of a God who loves us so very much and who wants so much more for us than what we can see and experience on this earth. The critical issue for Jesus is how does this faith and the hope in our secure future with God affect our lives now?
Hope in the resurrection gives meaning to our present lives and strengthens us in times of trial and uncertainty. With a resurrection lens we can view what our world considers valuable, seeks after and clings to from a different perspective. We get a new focus on life through resurrection lens. Everything we do on this earth should be built upon this faith and hope.
We must learn to live fully to love fully, to journey trustingly. In the face of our repeated failures, and even more so in the face of the evil that so often overwhelms us, we search for human answers and defenses but there are none. There is really only one answer and that is the leap of faith. We see the Risen Lord so often in the distance and through tear filled and clouded eyes. We hesitate. We wonder how He could forget our betrayals. We feel tarnished and unworthy but we know He is standing there waiting, welcoming, offering us the safe harbor of His embrace. So we take the leap of faith into the open arms of His love and finally know peace.
We have been chosen to live this life with great hope and faith. We believe that Jesus is the Life and the Resurrection. And, we believe that when we die, we are so fully engulfed in God's embrace that we become a part of his existence in ways we could never imagine and in ways that we can never describe. It is because of this that we can articulate the good news that living our lives in love has an eternal connectedness with living on in God after death.
While Jesus doesn’t give us a clear picture of what awaits us he does assure us that if we stay in relationship with God, nothing can destroy that bond, not even death. Resurrection is not about our own faithfulness. It is a radical claim about the faithfulness of God, who will not abandon his beloved.