It is posed in the gospel today that something happens when we get in Heaven that makes for a change in our relationships, at least in a change from the way we hold to marriage on this earth. The change is that people are then married to God, as in the Way Jesus Christ made possible for us to all become the bride to Himself, the Bridegroom. They are not married any longer to the spouse or spouses they had on earth. This the bigger picture behind the answer Jesus gives to His questioners, in that account we hear today. Important to know, too, is that all people who died do not get this privilege, but just those who believe in God, and those God deems to elect to that honor. Plus, Jesus is NOT saying here that our life in the eternal will dismiss the great, shared married loves of history, nor do they simply end at death. Marriage can make an immense, lasting impact on our life in the
Let us study this somewhat odd gospel. It is odd because the Sadducee Jews have purposely presented an odd case to our Lord, and they come arguing against the existence of Heaven, as if they don’t want it to exist. Now that IS peculiar and odd! What good religious person argues versus an afterlife and heavenly reward?! Yet this thing they did.
Did Jews believe in the afterlife, back then in the time when Jesus lived his 33 years on earth? Yes they did, which is the purpose for the 1st Reading from Maccabees in this set of readings today. Well, we can say some of the Jews did, and others did not.
The gospel story is centered on some men who think Heaven is not, with several men arguing for death as finality, with their case of a woman of many marriages, seven, which all ended badly in the childless death of her spouse each time, and the pitiable next brother in line in the dead husband’s family, taking on the care of the widow by marrying her. They say she’ll have no place in a so-called Heaven. They say that marriage couldn’t go on for the lady in Heaven, due to confusion of who she’d belong to. The whole thing is a weird case. It is certainly all made up, just to be thrown at Jesus to solve.
Jesus calmly talks about marriage and of Heaven to them. He says the two are related. He says that one is a short term institution on earth given from God to help us to love and do so in the image of God and to get us ready for Heaven, and then the other, Heaven, is that eternal joy when God will be our primary lover, thus changing what marriage is for the afterlife. It amazes me what reasonable and courteous and clear answer that Jesus will give to such a cockeyed question. (I guess like they say in religious matters, that there are no dumb questions.)
Jesus teaches the testy arguers that people, as it turns out, aren’t married in Heaven, in that, it is mainly an institution
God set up for this earth. He did give us marriage because, as Genesis 1-2 teaches, God did not want for man to be alone. So, God has a plan to espouse us all in Heaven, so that we would NOT be left alone. After life on earth, He will love us as Bridegroom (in Christ). So Jesus comes to win our hearts and to propose His eternal love for us. And, while we live on earth, God does want to get through to us some glimpses of eternity and great love, which marriage, for example, can afford from time to time.
Jesus explains that God has shown that He invented and designed this unique marriage relationship, in which people now live in, by two mutual and exclusive partners, and it is for an earthly love, to lead to a blessing for what is to come. What Jesus teaches here, in tandem with other teachings on the topic, is that marriages’ goal IS to lead those partners to God and into Heaven. It is to bring happiness along the way, in a special person in life for the married, and likely a family of children to give living joy.
In today’s gospel in Luke, the Sadducee Jews dp present a wild, far-fetched case to Jesus. Their case of a woman going to the supposed after-life after seven marriages, presents their idea of something they think is too complex and confusing, even by Mosaic law, for any “Heaven” to exist. She isn’t going anywhere but out-of-existence, they say.
Jesus explains how some people will be called into Heaven to Glory, and will not have to fit into some limited idea as like these Sadducees propose, yet instead we will be subject to something all marvelous and new, as from God.
Jesus preaches of a Heaven to come. He will explain how He, Jesus, will be the Bridegroom, and we will be the bride (with all other believers) in the final scene of things. That miserable story of the well-traveled multi-wife in the account could actually be the description of what we must seem to be in God’s views, as we stumble along in our difficulties and human complexibilities, so messed up by sin and by proud independence from God. We have all had our own journey of trials and tests under God’s watch, yet He still loves us and will do all to help us, even to live one days in His Heavenly Presence. Wow.
We won’t need to know how to sort out all our difficulties, such as in whom we are wedded to in the afterlife, because we will all belong to God through Jesus. That succinct answer was to appease the Sadducees question. Who will the woman be “married to” in the afterlife? To The Lord, of course!! (Not husband 1, 2, 3, or etcetera)
Jesus welcomed questions about marriage. Jesus knew that married life and love could save persons along into God’s Kingdom. Of good love in marriage, elsewhere in the Word of God, He says that love doesn’t end, but it is changed ahead. Love never fails, it endures, Love saves.
God gives us prophetic words of tenderness about His care for us: “I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you, and you are mine…” is a nice verse of God’s Heart.
Jesus shows that marriage in His Name can make a real difference. Marriage is valuable, as Jesus teaches in this time, for it has a great connection to how one DOES get there to Heaven. Marriage can act like a rocket booster that lifts us up to the Heavens. Marriage on earth can help generate the love and life needed to lift our hearts to the beauty and grace that is wedded life to the Lord Himself. Wedded love on earth prepares for the Wedding to the Lamb, with the end of the Bible so wonderfully tells about.
One can say that the love one has lived and shared on earth, such as in marriage, is transfigured when we move on for Heaven. It reveals the unlimited potential in us for love with God and all who is in His Kingdom and all what is in His Kingdom. Think of Jesus’ own transfiguration, which gave Peter and James and John more than a peak into the Glory of Jesus, and then go apply the idea to marriage. Marriage can unveil the kingdom of God taking place right within us or among us.
Marriage isn’t the only means to get to Heaven, but it is one the Lord instituted from the start, because He did not want Adam to be alone. Think of Eve not only as the partner for Adam, but of God’s saying that Adam would have a way out of any loneliness, as God would give him a horizontal experience of human love(Eve) to provide for Him help to a vertical experience of being loved (by God).
It is good that we would not be alone, so God gave us love and relationships with others, so that it would lead us to Him forever.
Back to talking on marriage investments to eternal rewards, if both partners have indeed helped one another into heaven, the joy of their shared lives will reach a high that must be unbelievable. If people have learned love and trust, and more, in marriage, than it all gets applied to being loving and trusting with God forever. Could it be your spouse on earth got you to the point of readiness for eternal bliss and ecstacy with God? That it the ideal of the Wedded Sacrament of Love.
Marriage can be a garden where we cultivate love, which starts here on earth, but comes forth like the fruits of the earth, to be ours for an everlasting love with God and perfect love to all others in His creation.
This same God of love will help us all gather into His love. Jesus described it as that we are the bride to heaven, marrying Him. A wedding supper of the Lamb awaits in the New Jerusalem! We also will love one another fully in the eternal life. That’s the picture, albeit a fuzzy one, that Jesus paints for us about what is to come.
That explanation by Him seemed to quiet the Sadducees who had come to pick an argument with the Man from Galilee. He taught and settled the matter, just saying how there were no issues in Heaven about the woman who had the 7 husbands on earth, and the wonder of whose wife would she be in Heaven… Yet Jesus was concerned with this religious group, for they did not want to consider Heaven and eternal life as a possibility at all. How sad! (Well, they were called Sad-ducees!) Jesus says that when we love, it can be the kind to last forever. We must believe that. We are made to love, both on earth and in the afterlife to come.
Since we are on the topic of marriage in the Homily Blog, and because I happened to be a clergy-witness at a Catholic Wedding/Nuptial Mass yesterday for a couple, let’s talk a bit more about marriage and weddings. It will be on the follow-up blog to this one.