Saint Kevin, abbot (Memorial)
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 statement, "they neither marry nor are given in marriage" are not aimed to prohibit marriage but to promise that a future with God is open to us. When we die we still have a future, as children of God. In that future life we will be radically different, and our view of the universe will be transformed. Yesterday's reading looked to the coming "day of God" and the Book of Revelation says there will be no more death or mourning, "for the former world has passed away" (Rev 21:4). In that future state there will be no more need for marriage but the bonds of love will not be obliterated. If what we do here and now affect our life hereafter, marriage and family ties may still have meaning, since love is at their heart.
When this life ends, our final judgment will be decided on the level of our loving; the extent of our giving; whether 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, surely the love and self-sacrifice in marriage must be rewarded too.
The Sadducees recognized the authority of only the first five books of the Bible, where they found nothing to suggest a life beyond this earthly life. Knowing that Jesus saw things differently, they set him a kind of riddle to trap him. The scenario they proposed imagines the afterlife as the physical extension of our present, bodily life. But Jesus envisions total newness. "When they rise ... they do not marry; no, they are like the angels in heaven."
The afterlife is not in physical continuity with what we experience here and now; it will be of a different qualitaty entirely, beyond our present power to understand. St Paul foresees the afterlife in terms of transformation. "We shall all be changed" (1Cor 15:52). In his testament to Timothey, Paul expresses his trust in that future: "I know the one in whom I have put my trust." Later he speaks of "the crown.., which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day" (4:7). Our love for God and for each other will be perfected in heaven, where we shall be all that God means us to be.