The book of Maccabees, our today's first reading, records the story of the unwavering faith and hope of seven brothers whose lives were brutally shortened by their king. These brave brothers received courage from their mother to endure extreme torture to glorify God. Their belief is in contrast to the Sadducees who ridiculed the biblical teaching about the glorious life in God's kingdom. The queries about where we originate and where our destination will be, has a clear answer for those who believe in Jesus; but for those who refuse to believe in Jesus, their answers are varied. Apart from Jesus' revelation about the resurrection, no one else has the personal experience to share and the authority to teach. We believe in Jesus because he himself was nailed on the cross, buried, and resurrected after three days laid in the tomb. This unique personal experience makes us believe that Jesus alone has the authority to talk about the afterlife, and his teaching confirms our hope in him.
The Sadducees accepted the teaching of the first five books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch. Their doubt about the resurrection has its reference from Deuteronomy 24, which teaches that a man should marry the childless widow of his brother to preserve the family's name. They created a hypothetical premise that all seven brothers, one after another, married the same childless sister in law. At the resurrection, which of them will she be the wife of the brothers? The Sadducees showed that they failed to understand Jesus' teaching about God's love and God's kingdom. They failed to recognize that Jesus' teaching is new, and He taught with authority. Through Jesus, we learn that their ignorance becomes our insight. Jesus told them that there is no need to preserve one's family name in God's kingdom since we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus further revealed that the new life in Christ is different from the present life.
Our present life is conditioned by time and space while the new life in Christ is freed from the laws of physics. Jesus told the Sadducees that children of the new life do not marry since they are like angels. Because our new life will be like the lives of the angels; financial, psychological, emotional support is no more needed, but our life is filled with God's love, and God's love alone satisfies our new life. We believe in the resurrection, but we are vaguely aware of what it will be like until when we see God face to face. Apart from Jesus' teaching, any attempt to explain the resurrection is pure speculation because they are unproven. Public opinion would not change the resurrection God gives to his people.
The Sadducees had the authority to interpret the Scriptures and yet they failed to understand Moses' teaching about the resurrection. 'Moses himself implies that the dead rise again'. Moses encountered God in the burning bush and the revelation of God's holy name (Exodus 3). Our resurrection has its foundation in the life of Jesus, and his promise to give eternal life to those who follow his way of love and service. They failed also to believe in Jesus' teaching about the resurrection.
Jesus told us that God allows us to share his divine life and this sharing makes us a new creation in Christ. It is possible because it is God's gift given to those who have faith in Jesus, and our new life is nothing else but the glory of His resurrection. This belief gives meaning to our present life and the life to come. Apart from God, there is no life. Our God is the living God and those who believe in God will live forever.