Psalm 144:1, 2, 9-10
Today's readings call us to reflect on the meaning of death and resurrection. Both the excerpt from Revelation and the gospel reading from Luke come at this big question in our lives - what's next? From an early age we realize that the life force in all living things eventually subsides and ceases. The emotions of fear, anxiety, confusion, anger, frustration, resignation often accompany our contemplation of death. We just aren't certain what, of anything, comes after our last breath.
Then comes Jesus. He brings us hope. Through the power of God he re-infused life force in some of His contemporaries who had died. Through the power of God He also rose from the dead. The Revelation reading reinforces the fact of eventual resurrection. But the Luke reading is interesting because it addresses what happens after death.
The Sadducees and scribes are once again testing Jesus. (I wonder if they were as mean-spirited as the Gospels at times paint them to be, or merely good people who were programmed to think and believe in a traditional way?) Although their question relates to a narrow point of Jewish law, I think what they really are asking Jesus is what is "it" like after death? Their question deals with the fact of resurrection as a life they understand now. Jesus answers that the resurrection, the "it" after death, is much different than our current understanding of life. (It is curious that the few accounts of Jesus raising the dead never have interviews with the formerly deceased. Think of the media coverage in our world if such an event happened today!)
Jesus' answer provides comfort for those who believe in His message.
But it isn't very specific (at least it isn't to this tax professor).
Nor can it be, since reality must be experienced to be fully understood
and appreciated (think how difficult it is to describe to a sensory deprived
person the reality you perceive with all your senses). I think Jesus
is providing hope, but also addressing those emotions that we feel when
we contemplate death. And again, if we truly believe in His message,
we should add to those emotions a strong sense of anticipation and peace
at what is to come. And so my prayer today is to ask for comfort,
anticipation, and peace at the time of my death, and that of those I love.
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