LIFE AFTER DEATH
We gather here on Sundays because this is the ‘day of the resurrection’. We call ourselves the people of the resurrection and of new life. We proclaim the mystery of faith: ‘Christ has died, Christ is risen.’ But we often do not stop and think about what we mean by ‘resurrection’ and ‘rising from the dead’. The heart of the question of the Sadducees was the custom of “levirate marriage,” which finds its support in (Deut. 25:5-6). The law for this time in Biblical history was probably a good law. However, this tricky question wasn’t about the law or to whom she would be married. The question was about what heaven was going to be like. “Is there an afterlife? Will people really be raised from the dead? These questions form the basic theme in today’s readings.
In answering their question Jesus gave a concise description of what resurrection entails.
1.Jesus makes it clear that life here on earth and life after death are not alike.
2. There is no marriage in “that age.” He did not say that we would not know our present wife or husband in the age to come, but rather that the relationship would be different.
3. There is no death in “that age.” Jesus identifies the quality of life when He says “neither can they die anymore,” it is eternal life.
4. The redeemed will be “like” the angels in heaven, seeing and serving and praising God.
These four points make up what we understand as resurrection.
Resurrection is what gives meaning to Christianity. Because Christ rose from the dead we can talk about Christianity. In 1Cor.15:14 Paul says if Christ had not risen from the dead then is our preaching vein. Again, resurrection according to the first reading is the raising up of man to an everlasting renewal of life by the King of the universe. It is also the coming to life after death. It is not reincarnation, neither is it resuscitation. In the former, a dead man is said to have being reborn into earthly existence. This is baseless in Christian tradition. While in the latter a dead man is raised to life through prayers or the promptings of the doctors. These do not equate resurrection in anyway. In resuscitation all those who were brought to life died again, Lazarus died again, Jarius daughter died again, and the likes.
In scripture and history resurrection only happened in Jesus, he was raised to eternal life. In a simple expression resurrection says the grave is not our final destination. All those who died shall be raised up to everlasting life on the resurrection morning. In Acts 24:15 Paul says “there will be resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” The righteous shall be raised to eternal life in heaven and the unrighteous to eternal domination.
In the gospel we are presented with a group of people called the Sadducees. The Sadducees (sedûqîm) were one of the three main Jewish political and religious movements (The other movements were the Essenes and the Pharisees.) The basic identity of the Sadducees is that they don’t believe in the resurrection. Today, there are Christians who don’t believe in the resurrection. There are some Christians who see no reason to pray for the dead; for them to ask for the intercession of the saints is a sin. These kind of Christians are not different from the Sadducees. Their very attachment to material pursuit speaks for itself. In the creed we profess our faith and say “I believe in… the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” This creed shows that we are not heading to nothingness but something else and something greater.
The Maccabean martyrs in the first reading profess their believe in the resurrection before given up their life in heroism. These kind of death is not suicidal but martyrdom. In suicide a man takes his life; but in martyrdom a man offers his life to God. In 2Macc.7:2 These seven sons and their mother were ready to die rather than transgress the law of our fathers. In Dan3:15-17 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were ready to die rather bow to the carved image. In Rom.8:35-39 Paul asked Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Beloved in Christ, for real Christians life is not live for personal advantage; life is lived fulfilling the will of God. We pray that we may find strength to resist the devil whenever he offers us options through Christ our Lord. Amen
Fr. Dan Evbotokhai