Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I am grateful to God ֠whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did ֠when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.
I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him.
To you I lift up my eyes
who are enthroned in heaven.
Behold, as the eyes of servants
are on the hands of their masters. (R./)
As the eyes of a maidservant
are on the hands of her mistress,
So are our eyes on the Lord, our God,
till he have pity on us. (R./)
Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, saying, "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."
The words of Jesus that "they neither marry nor are given in marriage" are not a prohibition of marriage but a promise that a heavenly future is open to us. In his mind, we have a future as children of God. In the life to come we will be radically different, and so will the entire earth be transformed. Yesterday, our reading promised "new heavens and a new earth" and the Book of Revelation speaks of "no more death or mourning, for the former world has passed away" (Rev 21:4).
Even marriage and family will be transformed, yes, but hardly obliterated. If what we do here and now will affect our life hereafter, marriage and family ties may still be recognisable, since love is at their heart.
Our final judgment will be decided on whether or not we fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, clothed the naked, comforted the sick, visited prisoners etc(Mt 25:40). If love for strangers is so rewarded and remembered, then surely the love and self-sacrifice in marriage will have its reward too.
The Sadducees recognized the authority of only the first five books of the Bible, where they saw nothing to suggest any life beyond this earthly life. They approach Jesus knowing that he sees things differently. The scenario they put to him imagines the afterlife as simply an extension of our present, corporeal life. But Jesus speaks of total newness. "When they rise ... men and women do not marry; no, they are like the angels in heaven."
The afterlife is not just a continuation what we experience here and now; it will be qualitatively different, beyond our present power to understand. Saint Paul foresees life beyond death in terms of transformation. "We shall all be changed." In that context he states that love endures into eternity. Our love for God and for each other will be perfected in heaven, making us into what God always intended us to be.