Lectio Divina: Luke 20:27-40
1) Opening prayer
Father of all that is good,
keep us faithful in serving you,
for to serve you is our lasting joy.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel reading - Luke 20:27-40
Some Sadducees who argue that there is no resurrection, approached Jesus and put this question to him, “Master, Moses wrote for us, if a man's married brother dies childless, the man must marry the widow to raise up children for his brother. Well then, there were seven brothers. The first, having married a wife, died childless. The second and then the third married the widow. And the same with all seven, they died leaving no children. Finally the woman herself died. Now, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be, since she had been married to all seven?”
Jesus replied, “The children of this world take wives and husbands, but those who are judged worthy of a place in the other world and in the resurrection from the dead do not marry because they can no longer die, for they are the same as the angels, and being children of the resurrection they are children of God.
And Moses showed that the dead rise again, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now He is God, not of the dead, but of the living; for to Him everyone is alive.”
Some scribes then spoke up. They said, “Well put, Master.” They did not dare to ask Him any more questions.
• The Gospel today gives us the discussion of the Sadducees with Jesus on faith in the resurrection.
• Luke 20, 27: The ideology of the Sadducees. The Gospel today begins with the following affirmation: “The Sadducees affirm that there is no resurrection”. The Sadducees were an elite type of aristocrat. They were conservative, insisting on a literal interpretation of the Law, and were invested in Roman rule and order. They did not accept faith in the resurrection. At that time, this faith was beginning to be valued by both the Pharisees and by ordinary people. This motivated people to resist the dominion of the Romans and of the priests, elders, and the Sadducees for whom the Messianic Kingdom was already present in the status quo. The Saducees were typically well off and content with the way things were at the time. They wanted religion to remain immutable like God himself. To ridicule faith in the resurrection, they created fictitious cases in which faith in the resurrection seemed absurd.
• Luke 20, 28-33: The fictitious case of the woman who married seven times. According to the law of the time, if the husband died without leaving any children, his brother had to marry the widow of the deceased man. This was done in case someone died without any descendants. In such cases, the dead man’s property would go to another family (Dt 25, 5-6). The Sadducees invented the story of a woman who buried seven husbands, brothers among themselves, and then she herself also died without children. And they asked Jesus: “This woman then, in the resurrection, whose wife will she be? Because the seven of them had her as wife”. This was invented in order to show that faith in the resurrection creates absurd situations, and exemplifies the literal interpretation the Saducees gave to the Law..
• Luke 20, 34-38: The response of Jesus which leaves no doubts. The response of Jesus displays the irritation of one who cannot bear pretense or deceit. Jesus cannot bear hypocrisy on the part of the elite which manipulates and ridicules faith in God to legitimize and defend its own interests. The response contains two parts. (a) you understand nothing of the resurrection: “The children of this world take wives and husbands, but those who are judged worthy of a place in the other world and in the resurrection from the dead, do not marry, because they can no longer die, for they are the same as the angels, and being children of the resurrection, they are children of God” (vv. 34-36). Jesus explains that the condition of persons after death will be totally different from the current condition. After death, there will be no marriages and all will be like angels in heaven. (b) The Sadducees imagined life in Heaven the same as life on earth. You understand nothing about God: “That the dead will rise, Moses has also showed this in regard to the bush, when he calls the Lord: the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not God of the dead, but of the living, because all live in him”. The disciples are attentive and learn! Those who are on the side of the Sadducees find themselves on the opposite side of God.
• Luke 20, 39-40: The reaction of others before the response of Jesus. “Then some of the scribes said: “Master you have spoken well. And they no longer dared to ask Him any more questions”. It is possible that some of these scribes were Pharisees, because the Pharisees believed in the resurrection (cf. Ac 23, 6). Either way, Jesus reduced his opponents to silence.
4) Personal questions
• Today, how do the groups which have power imitate the Sadducees and prepare traps in order to prevent changes in the world and in the Church?
• Do you believe in the resurrection? When you say that you believe in the resurrection, do you think about something of the past, of the present or of the future? Have you ever had an experience of resurrection in your life?
5) Concluding prayer
This I believe: I shall see the goodness of Yahweh,
in the land of the living.
Put your hope in Yahweh, be strong, let your heart be bold,
put your hope in Yahweh. (Ps 27,13-14)