November 25, 2023
Saturday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
“That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘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.” Luke 20:37–38
Jesus gives this response to some of the Sadducees who question Him about the resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the body, whereas the Pharisees did. Thus, the Sadducees asked Jesus about the resurrection of the body using an almost unheard of example. They refer to the levirate law found in Deuteronomy 25:5ff which states that if a married man dies before having children, the brother of that man must marry his wife and provide descendants for his brother. Thus, the Sadducees present the scenario where seven brothers die, each one subsequently taking the same wife. The question they posed was, “Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.” Jesus answers by explaining that marriage is for this life, not the life to come at the resurrection. Therefore, none of the brothers will be married to her when they rise.
Some spouses have a hard time with this teaching, in that they love their spouse and desire to remain married in Heaven and at the time of the final resurrection. For those who feel this way, rest assured that the bonds of love we form on earth will remain and even be strengthened in Heaven. And when the end of the world comes and all of our bodies rise and are reunited with our souls, those bonds of love will remain stronger than ever. However, marriage, in the earthly sense, will be no more. It will be replaced by the pure love of the new life to come.
This teaching gives us reason to ponder further the beautiful teaching of our Lord about His return in glory and, as we say in the Creed, “the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” We profess this belief every Sunday at Mass. But for many, it can be hard to understand. So what do we actually believe?
Simply put, we believe that when we die, our body is “laid to rest,” but our soul enters a moment of particular judgment. Those who remain in mortal sin are eternally separated from God. But those who die in a state of grace will eternally live with God. Most people who die will most likely die with some lasting venial sins on their soul. Thus, Purgatory is the grace of final purification that the person’s soul encounters upon death. Purgatory is simply the purifying love of God which has the effect of eliminating every last sin and imperfection, and every attachment to sin, so that the purified soul can see God face-to-face in Heaven. But it doesn’t stop there. We also believe that at some definitive time in world history, Jesus will return to earth and transform it. This is His Final Judgment. At that time, every body will rise, and we will live eternally as we were intended to live: body and soul united as one. Those souls who are in mortal sin will also be reunited with their bodies, but their body and soul will live separated from God forever. Thankfully, those who are in a state of grace and have endured their final purification will be resurrected and share in the new Heavens and new Earth forever, body and soul as God intended.
Reflect, today, upon this glorious teaching of our Lord that you profess faith in every time you pray the Creed. Keeping your eyes on Heaven and, especially, on the final and glorious resurrected state in which you will live in the new Heaven and Earth must become your daily practice. The more we live with this holy expectation, the more we will live here and now as a time of preparation for this final existence. Build treasure now in anticipation of this glorious day and believe that it is the eternity to which you are called.
My resurrected Lord, You now reign in Heaven, body and soul, in anticipation of the final and glorious resurrection of all the dead. May I always keep my eyes on this final goal of human life and do all that I can to prepare for this eternity of glory and love. Jesus, I trust in You.