27. Then came to him certain of the Sadducees which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him,
28. Saying, Master, Moses wrote to us, If any man’s brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed to his brother.
29. There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children.
30. And the second took her to wife, and he died childless.
31. And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also: and they left no children, and died.
32. Last of all the woman died also.
33. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife.
34. And Jesus answering said to them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage:
35. But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:
36. Neither can they die any more: for they are equal to the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
37. Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
38. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live to him.
39. Then certain of the Scribes answering said, Master, you have well said.
40. And after that they durst not ask him any question at all.
BEDE; There were two heresies among the Jews, one of the Pharisees, who boasted in the righteousness of their traditions, and hence they were called by the people, “separated;” the other of the Sadducees, whose name signified “righteous,” claiming to themselves that which they were not. When the former went away, the latter came to tempt Him.
ORIGEN; The heresy of the Sadducees not only denies the resurrection of the dead, but also believes the soul to die with the body. Watching then to entrap our Savior in His words, they proposed a question just at the time when they observed Him teaching His disciples concerning the resurrection;
as it follows, And they asked him, saying, Master, Moses wrote to us, If a brother, etc.
AMBROSE; According to the letter of the law, a woman is compelled to marry, however unwilling, in order that a brother may raise up seed to his brother who is dead. The letter therefore kills, but the Spirit is the master of charity.
THEOPHYL. Now the Sadducees resting upon a weak foundation, did not believe in the doctrine of the resurrection. For imagining the future life in the resurrection to be carnal, they were justly misled, and hence reviling the doctrine of the resurrection as a thing impossible they invent the story, There were seven brothers, etc.
BEDE; They devise this story in order to convict those of folly, who assert the resurrection of the dead. Hence they object a base fable, that they may deny the truth of the resurrection.
AMBROSE; Mystically, this woman is the synagogue, which had seven husbands, as it is said to the Samaritan, You had five husbands, because the Samaritan follows only the five books of Moses, the synagogue for the most part seven. And from none of them has she received the seed of a hereditary offspring, and so can have no part with her husbands in the resurrection, because she perverts the spiritual meaning of the precept into a carnal. For not any carnal brother is pointed at, who should raise seed to his deceased brother, but that brother who from the dead people of the Jews should claim to himself for wife the wisdom of the divine worship, and from it should raise up seed in the Apostles, who being left as it were unformed in the womb of the synagogue, have according to the election of grace been thought worthy to be preserved by the admixture of a new seed.
BEDE; Or these seven brothers answer to the reprobate, who throughout the whole life of the world which revolves in seven days, are fruitless in good works, and these being carried away by death one after another, at length the course of the evil world, as the barren woman, itself also passes away.
THEOPHYL. But our Lord shows that in the resurrection there will be no fleshly conversation, thereby overthrowing their doctrine together with its slender foundation; as it follows, And Jesus said to them, The children of this world marry, etc.
AUG. For marriages are for the sake of children, children for succession, succession because of death. Where then there is no death, there are no marriages; and hence it follows, But they which shall be accounted worthy, etc.
BEDE; Which must not be taken as if only they who are worthy were either to rise again or be without marriage, but all sinners also shall rise again, and abide without marriage in that new world. But our Lord wished to mention only the elect, that He might incite the minds of His hearers to search into the glory of the resurrection.
AUG. As our discourse is made up and completed by departing and succeeding syllables, so also men themselves whose faculty discourse is by departure and succession make up and complete the order of this world, which is built up with the mere temporal beauty of things. But in the future life, seeing that the Word which we shall enjoy is formed by no departure and succession of syllables, but all things which it has it has everlastingly and at once, so those who partake of it, to whom it alone will be life shall neither depart by death, nor succeed by birth, even as it now is with the angels; as it follows, For they are equal to the angels.; For as the multitude of the angels is indeed very great, yet they are not propagated by generation, but have their being from creation, so also to those who rise again, there is no more necessity for marriage; as it follows, And are the children of God.
THEOPHYL. As if He said, Because it is God who works in the resurrection, rightly are they called the sons of God, who are regenerated by the resurrection. For there is nothing carnal seen in the regeneration of them that rise again, there is neither coming together, nor the womb, nor birth.
BEDE; Or they are equal to the angels, and the children of God, because made new by the glory of the resurrection, with no fear of death, with no spot of corruption, with no quality of an earthly condition, they rejoice in the perpetual beholding of God’s presence.
ORIGEN; But because the Lord says in Matthew, which is here omitted, You do err, not knowing the Scriptures, ask the question, where is it so written, They shall neither marry, nor be given in marriage? for as I conceive there is no such thing to be found either in the Old or New Testament, but the whole of their error had crept in from the reading of the Scriptures without understanding; for it is said in Esaias, My elect shall not have children for a curse. Whence they suppose that the like will happen in the resurrection. But Paul interpreting all these blessings as spiritual, knowing them not to be carnal, says to the Ephesians, You have blessed us in all spiritual blessings.
THEOPHYL Or to the reason above given the Lord added the testimony of Scripture, Now that the dead are raised, Moses also showed at the bush, as the Lord said, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. As if he said, If the patriarchs have once returned to nothing so as not to live with God in the hope of a resurrection, He would not have said, I am, but, I was, for we are accustomed to speak of things dead and gone thus, I was the Lord or Master of such a thing; but now that He said, I am, He shows that He is the God and Lord of the living. This is what follows, But he its not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him. For though they have departed from life, yet live they with Him in the hope of a resurrection.
BEDE; Or He says this, that after having proved that the souls abide after death, (which the Sadducees denied,) He might next introduce the resurrection also of the bodies, which together with the souls have done good or evil. But that is a true life which the just live to God, even though they are dead in the body. Now to prove the truth of the resurrection, He might have brought much more obvious examples from the Prophets, but the Sadducees received only the five books of Moses, rejecting the oracles of the Prophets.
CHRYS. As the saints claim as their own the common Lord of the world, not as derogating from His dominion, but testifying their affection after the manner of lovers, who do not brook to love with many, but desire to express a certain peculiar and especial attachment; so likewise does God call Himself especially the God of these, not thereby narrowing but enlarging His dominion; for it is not so much the multitude of His subjects that manifests His power, as the virtue of His servants. Therefore He does not so delight in the name of the God of heaven and earth, as in that of in God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Now among men servants are thus denominated by, their masters; for we say, ‘The steward of such a man’, but on the contrary God is called the God of Abraham.
THEOPHYL. But when the Sadducees were silenced, the Scribes commend Jesus, for they were opposed to them, saying to Him, Master, you have well said.
BEDE; And since they had been defeated in argument, they ask Him no further questions, but seize Him, and deliver Him up to the Roman power. From which we may learn, that the poison of envy may indeed be subdued, but it is a hard thing to keep it at rest.
Catena Aurea Luke 20
The Word Among Us
Meditation: Luke 20:27-40
Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (Optional Memorial)
Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection . . . (Luke 20:27)
You don’t hear much about the Sadducees in the gospels, but they played an important role during Jesus’ time. In fact, the chief priests and most of the Temple authorities were part of this group. The Sadducees generally came from Israel’s privileged class, and they tended to see the Pharisees as less refined. The Sadducees taught a strict adherence to the Law of Moses, while the Pharisees took a more open-ended approach to Scripture.
Theological disagreements like this one kindled deep divisions among the people of Israel. You can see an example of this in the story of St. Paul’s trial in Jerusalem, when a riot breaks out when some Sadducees learn that he is a Pharisee who believes in the resurrection (Acts 23:6-11).
As it was in Jesus’ day, so it is now: division among God’s people tends to blind us to all that we have in common. The Pharisees and Sadducees had the same love for the Law of Moses, and they were both part of God’s chosen, holy people. Today, Christians from many different churches, traditions, and denominations share the Sacrament of Baptism, belief in the Trinity, the centrality of Jesus’ cross, the power of the Holy Spirit, and so many other truths. For decades now, the Catholic Church has taught that the more we focus on all we have in common, the easier it will be for us to resolve our differences.
This year marks the five-hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. In the past this story has been recounted by both Catholics and Protestants in accusatory tones. But this year, leaders from many different Christian churches commemorated this event together and committed themselves to rediscover the power of the gospel in our day and age. This gracious approach to our painful history shows us that the Holy Spirit is at work. At a time when the world seems to be getting more divided, God is helping his fragmented people provide an example of what the path to unity can look like.
So in a spirit of unity and love, let’s all echo Jesus’ heartfelt prayer from the Last Supper:
“May they all be one . . . so that the world may believe.” (John 17:21)
1 Maccabees 6:1-13
Psalm 9:2-4, 6, 16, 19
Saturday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary TimeLuke 20: 27-40
Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.” Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as 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 all of them are alive.” Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him another question.
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the Alpha and the Omega. You have given me life and offer me eternal life with you. You deserve my honor, gratitude and love, and yet you never impose yourself upon me. Thank you for respecting my freedom so that I can offer myself to you. All that I have is yours; I return it to you.
Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to be a child of God, a child of the resurrection.
1. Simple and Constant Conversation: Today we see some Sadducees asking Christ an important question about heaven. Christ teaches us that once we are in heaven, things will be considerably different than they are here on earth. This is a beautiful example how we can converse with Christ. We simply need to ask him questions: questions about our faith, about difficulties we may be having with certain relationships, about career changes, etc. The answers we receive may not be what we were expecting or hoping for, but what is important is that we engage Christ in conversation every day and that we seek to please him in everything we do. This open, warm contact with Our Lord is already a little taste of heaven.
2. Union with Christ: Christ reminds us that he and the Father are the God of the living. He gave us our life; we lost it. He became man, suffered, died and rose on the third day that we might have a new life — a life in and with God, now and for all eternity. Our ultimate marriage will be in heaven, as we will be one with God as Jesus is.
3. Participation in the Life of God: When God reveals his mysteries to us, we participate in his life. God has made us so we would pursue him, so we would listen to him, so we would understand him, so we would crave the things of God. Is not that a mystery unto itself? We have a God who wants to speak with us constantly about the things of heaven! This reality, this inestimable gift, should move us to share with others the Good News.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, through your death and resurrection and my baptism, you have made me a child of God. Help me to appreciate more fully this day and what it means to be a child of God. Grant me the grace to live in accord with this gift of gifts.
Resolution: Today I will look on all things as if God were speaking to me in every moment.