Luke 20:27-38, 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Nanay Cianang & Mamay Aquin were a grand-aunt & uncle whose family is still the happiest bunch of relatives I have. They’re an interesting family. Lola Cianang was once married and had children by her first husband. Mamay Aquin was the same way, had a first wife and children. Then, the two were widowed. But Nanay and Mamay eventually found each other. They fell in love, got married, and moved into one house with all their grown kids in tow. But wait…there’s more. The children from their first spouses? They fell in love, and got married…to each other! To this day, the love and joy in which Mamay and Nanay raised their children, is ardent and alive.
I also have a few friends who were widowed at a young age. They’ve decided to never remarry. Even if their dying beloved had given them “permission” to remarry, and regardless that death officially released one from married vows, my friends would rather live uncommitted the rest of their lives. For in their spouses, they had found their one, true joy, their one, true love…stronger than death itself.
Sisters and brothers, the Sadducees believed that this life was all there was, no such thing as an afterlife or immortality or “the world to come.” They based their unbelief on the Torah, the first five books of the Bible—which was all they obeyed. And in the Torah, they perceived no reference to the resurrection whatsoever. On the other hand, the Pharisees and the rest of the Jews believed in the Torah as well as the book of the prophets and the psalms where there was plenty of reference to the resurrection. So, the Sadducees believed that this life, here and now, was what you made it. It was make or break. Easy for them to say, I guess, because Sadducees were mostly aristocracy, they were pretty much made in life already. Now, as to their question about whose wife a widow would be, come the resurrection, when six brothers-in-law had already been husbands to her—well, the Sadducees weren’t exactly looking for an answer. It was an argumentum ad absurdum. They wanted to disprove the Lord’s teaching on the resurrection by reducing it to a ridiculous, absurd question. This reminds me of Thomas Aquinas who said: “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one who has no faith, no explanation is possible.” The Sadducees were pretty sure there wasn’t a resurrection because the Torah didn’t say so. No explanation from Jesus would’ve been enough, nor even necessary.
But you know, sisters and brothers, these strange Sadducees, they do make me wonder about marriage and the resurrection. Indulge me for a while and take for example, Nanay Cianang and Mamay Aquin who are now in heaven. I wonder how Nanay and her first husband are today; I mean, I wonder what kind of, well, “friendship” they have. I wonder how goes it with Mamay Aquin and his first earthly wife. As resurrected beings, how do they call their relationships? How do all four of them regard each other? I imagine, their resurrection would make for a truly interesting reunion. How fascinating their conversations must be, or maybe, their “comparing notes”— “Naku, pare, areng si Graciana mo, noong kami na, ay napakasakit mangurot!” “Naku, kumareng Cianang, yan gang si Aquin ay malakas pa ring maghilik nung kayo na ang mag-swithart?”—in singsong Batangueño, & a good belly laugh about it all! As for my friends who have chosen to remain un-remarried, I imagine, when they’re reunited with their spouses, the resurrection would be but the joyful continuation of their one true joy and one true love. And in a heavenly karaoke joint run probably by St. Cecilia, their favorite duet would be Diana Ross & Lionel Richie’s “Endless Love”! Ang baduy; sorry ha?
Jesus answered, “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. They no longer die…they are like angels…they are the children of God.” In Jesus’ Jewish context, people got married mainly to perpetuate the lineage. In the resurrection, however, there’d be no need for any of that because life would be eternal. The perpetuation of lineage—a precious concern for the aristocratic Sadducee—now that would be reduced ad absurdum in the resurrection.
Sisters and brothers, deep in my heart, I sense that here on earth, you and I make friends, fall in love, commit to marriage—because underneath our deepest desire for relationship is our existential and spiritual yearning for God. I believe that God deliberately wired human souls to be deeply relational because the Creator happens to be that way himself. God is love. And since God is eternal, then God is endless loving, endless relating, on earth as in heaven. E, nagmana tayo sa Dios na lumikha sa atin. So, aware of it or not, we endlessly desire to relate because that’s the God in us who can’t and won’t stop loving. Our constant need to build friendships and express love, to receive friendship and be loved—all this is God being “married” to our souls, in a manner of speaking.
But what will become of marriage in the resurrection? We’re not sure. We can only theorize based on the Lord’s words. I don’t think God would mind, though, if we presumed that when we’re united with him forever, the friendship and caring and tenderness and company and family over “there” might be a little like what we know them “here”, but a mind-blowing gazillion times better—better than the best friendship, better than the best marriage here on earth. Resurrection is Fulfillment. It’s God’s gift of all goodness and love we’ve hungered and thirsted to taste and see on earth. We believe in the resurrection, sisters and brothers, because we believe in God who constantly says and shows: “See, anak, I love you with an endless love. You have no idea how much life there is in that love—stronger than death.” But how could that be? We ask. And maybe God says, “No explanation enough, anak.” Then again, no explanation necessary.
I end with the prayer from today’s psalm – “O God, when your glory appears, our joy will be full”. Amen.