Now there were seven brothers;
the first married a woman but died childless.
Then the second and the third married her,
and likewise all the seven died childless.
Finally the woman also died.
Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?
For all seven had been married to her.”
Today’s Gospel can be seen from several angles: where do our loved ones go when they die? Will we be reunited in afterlife? What will happen at the time of the Resurrection of the dead? Will their be a Resurrection?
It is also about Jesus being challenged once again by those he threatens; one more time they are trying to trick him, unsuccessfully. Jesus, whose unique mind hovers over them, giving them an answer which cannot satisfy them, as it goes beyond what they are willing to understand.
I have never felt comfortable with this passage. Not because I am afraid of dying: I have come to look at it as time of transition into liberation. Nor because of resurrection: I am more into living this life as well as I can; living is my true challenge. Is there life before death?
The story of the woman having to marry seven brothers is for me a “text of terror” (See Phyllis Trible’s Texts of Terror). The name of the first husband is to be continued, through a son, of course. She is just taken as an example to corner Jesus. It reflects in a harsh light the status of women in Jesus’ days, a status which remains the same today in many parts of the world.
I do not care so much what happens to the woman once she is dead. I am concerned for her while she is alive, seen only as a womb, as a means to an end. I find myself stopped there. I need to turn to Jesus then with this pain in my heart for all the violence done to women and children everywhere. Most religions, if not all, are still patriarchal with women seen in ways advantageous to men, partners both consciously and unconsciously unjust and unfair.
In his answer, Jesus shows the Sadduccees how simplistic and skewed their beliefs are, how the ways of their world are not the ways of Godde.
As I close my prayer, I remain with his final response, “he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive”. Godde loves women and men equally. The unfairness of our societies springs from structures of sin, structures which must be brought out into the light for all to see. To continue to do what Jesus started long, long ago.
Photo: Chicago musical