06 November 2010


32nd Week in Ordinary Time
Lk 20:27-40

If I were one of the seven brothers mentioned in the Gospel today, I would never marry that woman. Marrying her would be like drinking poison. Marrying her would be suicidal. What is it in her that killed all the seven brothers who marrid her? I do not know, the Gospel does not say. For the Gospel today is not really about marriage, but about the resurrection.

We have two groups of people: the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Together with the Essenes, the Sadducees and the Pharisees formed the three prominent groups of Judaism during the time of Jesus’ earthly life. Among these three groups, the Sadducees and the Pharisees were at odds with each other. They were often on a head-on collision with each other. On the one hand, the Sadducees were an aristocratic, politically minded group, willing to compromise with secular and pagan leaders. They controlled the high priesthood during the time of Jesus and held the majority of the seats in the Sanhedrin, the quasi-senate of the Jews. They did not believe in the resurrection or the afterlife. They likewise rejected the oral tradition taught by the Pharisees. On the other hand, the Pharisees were the most influential party. The Semitic definition of the word “Pharisee” is “the separated ones”. Another Hebrew word used to refer to the Pharisees: Chasidim, meaning “loved by God”. The Pharisees or the Chasidim adhered to the literal observance of the Law. They measured righteousness in direct proportion to strict obedience to the Ten Commandments and the numerous prescriptions and prohibitions that their scholars of the Law formulated. As against the Sadducees, the Pharisees believed in the resurrection or the afterlife and in angels because they accepted the reality of the spiritual world. Both Sadducees and Pharisees, however, no longer exist in our age – at least, not publicly or formally.

Today the Sadducees and the Pharisees crossed paths, and Jesus happened to stand right at the center of the two factions. Each was trying to get the sympathy of Jesus. Why not? After all, Jesus, though without any formal rabbinic training, was popularly acclaimed as a great rabbi. Both the Sadducees and Pharisees wanted to get His stamp of approval on their opposing doctrine. In the process, they were likewise setting a trap to indict Jesus with His own words. But, as always, Jesus knew better.

The real issue between the Sadducees and the Pharisees was their twisted view on life. The Sadducees saw nothing beyond earthly life. Spiritual realities were a big baloney. Such a view can easily lead one to follow the dangerous principle that says, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you will die.” And when you are dead, you are gone forever. The Pharisees, however, while seeing life beyond the earthly, considered eternal life as a much deserved reward or a credit slavishly gained by mere human observance of every minute detail of the Law. But eternal life is not a reward or a credit for anything good we do. Eternal life is a gift. It always was and it always will be.

Resurrection is not resuscitation. It is an entirely and radically new type of existence. It is real and, as eternal life is, it is a gift.

Jesus tried to set on the right path the two parties that crossed paths today. He refused to be absorbed by their petty quarrels. There are more important things that one should waste his time and energy for than worrying about whose wife or husband we will be in the afterlife. While they attempted to trap Jesus, the Sadducees and the Pharisees were really the ones entangled in their distorted doctrine. The same can happen to any of us who focuses on the trivial rather than the essential and, like the Sadducees and Pharisees, is not sincere in his or her quest for truth.

May God save us from our own foolish snares.


At 4:56 AM , Blogger talkneneng said...

Nakikisabay ang ating sarili sa ingay ng mundo, kaya hindi natin mapakinggan ang banayad na tinig ni Hesus. Sana mapakinggan muli natin Siya nang dumaloy ang grasya at pagpapala Niya. I pray, Amen.


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