I remember religion classes in high school as a curious mixture
of crowd control, serious inquiry, some actual teaching and learning,
and adolescent obfuscation. I was way too insecure to ask serious
questions then, but I recall two basic approaches from my classmates.
First off, a guy would really want to know and understand some bit
of history or theology or scripture: “What does this really
Second, one or other of the guys in my class would have an arsenal
of questions meant to take up time so that we didn’t get to
the main material that none of us were prepared to deal with. These
questions were basically of the type, “How far can I go…?”
You get the picture. Year after year, this sort of question hooked
our teachers and drew them off the main point. We successfully avoided
being challenged at any depth.
It seems to me that the Sadducees ask an amalgamation of the two.
I’m sure for some of them resurrection of the body was a burning
question. But for others, I would guess, it was simply a way to
try to distract Jesus from saying something to their heart.
“Yo, Jesus, let’s talk about this thing over here! Hey,
look at this! Don’t talk directly to me! Don’t see me
for who I am!”
Let me suggest that, in the aftermath of “The Da Vinci Code,”
the Church does need to entertain lots of significant questions
and re-catechize adult Catholics as adults. Not all questions have
been significant. Not all answers have been discerning.
Jesus listened to the Sadducees, even those who were blowing smoke.
He spoke directly to the heart of their question masterfully. May
the Spirit grant us the wisdom to do just that. May we discern and
speak to the heart of all who inquire, even to those with less than
I’d suggest this, finally. Go back to the first reading of
today’s liturgy. Perhaps St. Paul might speak to your heart
about the essentials as a mentor speaks to someone who truly wants
to learn about the fundamentals.