GOD’S CHILDREN AREN’T DEAD FOR GOD
Jesus has always been very serious in talking about the new life that comes after the resurrection. However, when a group of aristocratic Sadducees try to make light of the faith in the resurrection of the dead, Jesus reacts by raising the question to its true level and making two basic affirmations.
First of all, Jesus rejects the Sadducees’ childish idea that imagines the life of the raised as a prolongation of this life as we know it now. It’s wrong to represent the life of those risen by God by basing it on our present experiences.
There’s a radical difference between our earthly life and the full life that is sustained directly by God’s love after death. That Life is absolutely «new». That’s why we can await it but never describe it or explain it.
The first generations of Christians maintained this humble and honest attitude in the face of the mystery of «eternal life». Paul tells the Corinthian believers that we’re dealing with something the «the eye has never seen nor the ear heard nor any person has ever imagined, something that God has prepared for those God loves».
These words help us as a healthy warning and a joyful orientation. On the one hand, heaven is completely «new», something that is beyond any terrestrial experience; but on the other hand, it’s a life «prepared» by God for the complete fulfillment of our deepest aspirations. What’s proper to faith is to not let our curiosity be naively satisfied, but to feed the desire, the expectation, the hope that trusts in God.
That’s precisely what Jesus seeks to do by appealing with complete simplicity to a fact accepted by the Sadducees: in the biblical tradition God is called «the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob». In spite of the fact that these patriarchs have died, God continues being their God, their protector, their friend. Death hasn’t been able to destroy God’s love and fidelity toward them.
Jesus draws his own conclusion, making an affirmation that is decisive for our faith: «God isn’t the God of the dead, but of the living; because for God all are alive». God is a perpetual spring of life. Death doesn’t leave God without beloved sons and daughters. When we mourn those whom we’ve lost in this world, God looks on them full of life because God has welcomed them in God’s paternal love.
According to Jesus, God’s union with God’s children can’t be destroyed by death. God’s love is stronger that our biological extinction. That’s why, with humble faith, we dare to invoke God: «My God, in You I trust. Don’t let me be defrauded» (Psalm 25,1-2).
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf