As we enter the last month of the Church year, the focus of our readings begins to shift. We will begin to hear Jesus speak more about the end of the world, the last judgment, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal life. This yearly reminder is important for us, since it helps us to re-focus on the goal of our earthly pilgrimage, which is to know, love, and serve God in this life, so that we can dwell with Him forever in the life that is to come.
Many people, however, have difficulties with the concept of the resurrection of the dead. When life is seen as pain, or a burden, why would we want to return to that life for all eternity? Wouldn’t it be better to just blissfully float through the ether, and not have a care in the world? I think that thoughts like this come from a misunderstanding of what Jesus is speaking about when he speaks of the resurrection in the Gospels. This misunderstanding is also what motivates the questioning of the Sadducees in today’s Gospel.
I think that when many people think of resurrection, their first tendency is to think of reanimation: a returning to life exactly as the person was before they died. This is why the Sadducees think that they can so easily disprove the resurrection with their story of the woman who had been married seven times. If all seven of her husbands were suddenly alive again, wouldn’t that cause problems? Therefore, how can there be a resurrection?
Jesus reminds us, though, that our life after the resurrection will be different from our current human existence. In the Gospel, Jesus says that those who rise from the dead are like angels, meaning that they can no longer die, marry, or be given in marriage. If we look elsewhere in Scripture, especially in the book of Revelation, we can see that the life after the resurrection will be free of pain, suffering, and tears, since we will dwell with God for all eternity.
This Month of All Souls is a perfect time to remind ourselves of the promises that God makes to us about the life that is to come. It is also an excellent reminder of our call as Christians to pray for those who have died, and ask that they be given peace, and eternal rest with God. I hope that you can join us for one of our Memorial Masses this month, or participate in the service at Heavenly Rest Cemetery on November 13 at 2 pm, which will be led by Bishop Fabbro. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Steven Huber, CSB