The God of the Living Flower Not of the Dead Thoughts
Paris, November 08, 2013 (Zenit.org) Monsignor Francesco Follo
1) Life is not taken away from us but it is transformed
In today’s gospel, some Sadducees go to Jesus (Lk 20:27-38) to put him against the Bible, but perhaps also because their hearts were attracted to Jesus. All approach Him even if with different intents. In today’s liturgy the affiliates to this religious movement in order to defend their interpretation of the Bible, ask an important question regarding the resurrection from the dead. The case in question concerns a woman who had married seven brothers. One after the other the husbands had died and she had no children. This widow, who had been taken and left alone seven times, was not only barren but was condemned to an uncertain and sterile life. The conclusion of the Sadducees is ironic and terrible “You say that there is resurrection. What will happen to this woman? She had seven husbands. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?”
With patience typical of the ones who love, Jesus answers widening the perspective and taking them little by little to the logic of Life. The criterions of earthly life cannot by applied to the life in the otherworld because the difference is substantial. “Is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit” (see Rm 14:17). It changes completely the dimension where “on every instant gravitates the Eternal” (Ada Negri). “Man’s greatness, his glory and his majesty are in knowing what it is truly great, in attaching to it and in asking glory from the Lord of glory” (see Saint Basil the Great – Homily 20- chapter 3).
In his answer Jesus quotes the Bible, but surprisingly he quotes Exodus 3:6 which is a text on God not on the resurrection “That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called out ‘Lord, ‘ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive” Where is the proof that the dead will rise? If God describes himself “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” and he is a God of the living not of the dead, then that means that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are alive somewhere even if, when God speaks of them to Moses, they have been dead for a long time.
In answering to the Sadducees Jesus takes the opportunity also to correct the belief of those Pharisees that understood the resurrection in material terms exposing themselves to the irony of the liberals. It is the same irony we find in today’s Gospel “A woman had seven husbands, at resurrection whose wife will she be?” Jesus says that the life of the dead is not like the one on earth; it is a different life because is divine and eternal. We could compare it to the one of the angels (see Lk 20:36).
The angels are not the gentle and evanescent creatures we imagine. In the Bible they have the power of God, a dynamism that goes above, rises and enters and flies in light, in love and in beauty. Their duty is to guard, to illuminate, to govern and to make love beautiful. The angels that perpetually contemplate God, are the ones to whom the celestial pity has given custody of us. They illuminate us, protect us constantly in our life and guide us along the Master’s ways toward the everlasting home. We area called to angelical life now here and for eternity.
The ephemeral becomes eternal. With his Cross, Christ didn’t get rid of the ephemeral in order to “escape“ towards eternity, but has put the seed of eternity in the world to let the Kingdom of God grow and to introduce angelic life into the world.
2) The angelic life of the consecrated life
Before saying how consecrated life is angelic life and transforms the ephemeral into eternity, I’d like to point out that the ones who claim that matrimony has no consequences in heaven make a wrong interpretation of Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees. By stating that “The children of this age marry and are given in marriage;but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Lk 20:34-35), Jesus rejects the spoofy idea that the Sadducees present of the otherworld as if it were a simple continuation of the earthly relationship between spouses, and doesn’t rule out that they could find in God the union that united them on earth.
Beside the family there is another “place” that is school of love, that is consecrated life that “teaches” by transforming the existence of the consecrated people into a pure hymn to the Lord like the life of the saints and of the angels. To make this happen it is necessary to tune the harp and to gain purity of heart. The consecrated persons do so with the vow and the practice of chastity. Nature demands that man writes something eternal on something that is ephemeral. Through the Eucharistic the ephemeral bread and wine become eternal.
The same happens in the virginal consecration when the virgins consecrate their ideal, ”truly lofty in itself, demands no special external change. Each consecrated person normally remains in her own life context. It is a way that seems to lack the specific characteristics of religious life, and above all that of obedience. For you, however, love becomes the sequel: your charisma entails a total gift to Christ, an assimilation of the Bridegroom who implicitly asks for the observance of the evangelical counsels in order to keep your fidelity to him unstained (cf. RCV, n. 26). …. I urge you to go beyond external appearances, experiencing the mystery of God’s tenderness which each one of you bears in herself and recognizing one another as sisters, even in your diversity” (ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESSBENEDICT XVI TO THE PARTECIPANT IN THE INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS-PILGRIMAGE OF THE ORDO VIRGINUM, Thursday, 15 May 2008) Doing so they testify that the tender grace of God is worthy more than life (see Ps 62/53, 4)
Saint Augustine of Hippo: Exposition on Psalm 66
1. This Psalm hath on the title the inscription, “For the end, a song of a Psalm of Resurrection.” When ye hear “for the end,” whenever the Psalms are repeated, understand it “for Christ:” the Apostle saying, “For the end of the law is Christ, for righteousness to every one believing.” In what manner therefore here Resurrection is sung, ye wilt hear, and whose Resurrection it is, as far as Himself deigneth to give and disclose. For the Resurrection we Christians know already hath come to pass in our Head, and in the members it is to be. The Head of the Church is Christ? the members of Christ are the Church. That which hath preceded in the Head, will follow in the Body. This is our hope; for this we believe, for this we endure and persevere amid so great perverseness of this world, hope comforting us, before that hope becometh reality . . . . The Jews did hold the hope of the resurrection of the dead: and they hoped that themselves alone would rise again to a blessed life because of the work of the Law, and because of the justifications of the Scriptures, which the Jews alone had, and the Gentiles had not. Crucified was Christ, “blindness in part happened unto Israel, in order that the fulness of the Gentiles might enter in:” as the Apostle saith. The resurrection of the dead beginneth to be promised to the Gentiles also that believe in Jesus Christ, that He hath risen again. Thence this Psalm is against the presumption and pride of the Jews, for the comfort of the Gentiles that are to be called to the same hope of resurrection.