Wednesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

The resurrection from the dead

Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and put this question to him, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, ‘If someone’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers. The first married a woman and died, leaving no descendants. So the second married her and died, leaving no descendants, and the third likewise. And the seven left no descendants. Last of all the woman also died. At the resurrection (when they arise) whose wife will she be? For all seven had been married to her.” Jesus said to them, “Are you not misled because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God? When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven. Mk 12,18-27

Faith in the Resurrection was born in the New Testament, by preaching and by the experience of the risen Jesus, and has spread to all men. It makes up the core of the Christian revelation, without which, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “then empty (too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith” (1Cor 15,14). Before Jesus, in the greek-roman world, the concept of immortality of the soul had established, and therefore, the one of resurrection did not make any sense: it cannot die what is immortal. In the Jewish civilization as from the Old Testament, first the Jew used to see himself as mortal and saw in death the end of everything. Then, very slowly, the concept of resurrection began to appear: it is mentioned in the second book of Maccabees, in the occasion of the death of the seven brothers (2Mac 7), and in the books of Isaiah (Is 26,19) and Daniel (Dn 12,2).The Sadducees, however, were conservative and essentially accepted the first five books of the Old Testament; therefore, the faith in the resurrection was considered a ridiculous belief. They were almost all landowners and for them the problem of death had only to do with granting their offspring the inheritance of the land. It is for this reason that in today’s Gospel, they turn to Jesus, who has already started talking about the resurrection, and ironically present him with the hypothetical case of a woman who had seven husbands and ask “At the resurrection (when they arise) whose wife will she be?”. Jesus, after complaining about their lack of knowledge of the Scriptures, replies: “When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven”. In eternity, in fact, there will not be the problem of the ownership of a woman, as it happened in the Jewish civilization at the time of Jesus. On the contrary, since the believers in the gospel begin to live as resurrected already in this world, that answer hides the seeds of the beginning of the revaluation of women.

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