Et’s strengthen faith in eternal life!

This time of November has led many of you to think or discuss whether there is life after death. Perhaps you have read the book Life after Life by the American doctor Moody, who deals with Lazarus’ symptoms. The stories he describes happened to those who survived clinical death and were awakened to life. This may not yet convince anyone of the existence of life after death. Still, many are troubled by a lot of confusion when reading it, such as understanding depersonalization, the great light, the tunnel, the wonderful feeling of joy, and so on. In this soulful time, Jesus wants to bring light to our doubts with today’s Gospel, which describes the meeting of the Lord Jesus with the Sadducees, who deny the resurrection.

The Sadducees asked the Lord Jesus about the resurrection of those who had died physically. We also often meet Sadducees. A group of Sadducees sought conflict to oppose Jesus. The Sadducee class came from the strict priestly class and became more of a political group than a religious one. We may take them as a second Jewish sect, smaller than the class of Pharisees, with whom they disagree because they teach more strictly and have confined the revelation of God to the Five Books of Moses. They deny the resurrection and the soul’s immortality; they do not believe in life after death or angels.

Therefore, they tell Jesus a fictional event that is directed against him. They refer to the Law of Moses, which orders: “… if someone’s brother dies who had a wife but was childless, his brother should marry her and beget offspring for his brother”  (Lk 20:28). They also talk about one woman who, after the death of her husband, was married to his seven brothers. That is why they ask the Lord Jesus: “Well, which of them will be his wife at the resurrection? After all, the seven had her as his wife” (Lk 20:33).

The Sadducees say there can be no life after death because comic scenes would follow. The previous question formulated in this way is ridiculous. However, it is not because there are many similar questions even today. When people talk about life after death today, many do not believe in life after death, ridicule and misinterpret it. For one group, this life is compatible with our life here. That’s why they try to live fully here on earth, and that’s all they expect from life. The second group speaks of the double life as a mystery that beckons man. However, it is vague and therefore resembles dreaming of an earthly paradise where one will not lack material things, goods, and joy. So they see the second life after death as a higher quality earthly life. Some say we only live once, so life should be enjoyed to the last drop. Others, on the other hand, give themselves up on dreaming of a place of fantastic progress in earthly understanding. True, there are many different attitudes among us. We must not forget to mention those who live in connection with God. Their knowledge of eternal life is vague, something like a fog before us that prevents full knowledge.

We can also ask: Is there a resurrection? If so, how will it be done? We are supposed to believe it, but how do we convince ourselves of it? In this spirit, the questions of the Sadducees and, indeed, many of us were asked. They talked about marriage and its continuation after death. The Lord Jesus will tell them that their thinking about these things is purely earthly. Therefore not concerned with the items after death, which require different reviews. Consequently, he emphasizes to them:  “Sons of this age marry and are given away. But those who are recognized as worthy of that age and resurrection no longer marry or give in marriage”(Luke 20:36). This does not mean that they cease to be human, but that natural laws no longer apply to them after death. A completely different, new reality has arisen, separate from the one on earth, and therefore people in the new life after death are not angels. Still, they are no longer people in the earthly understanding of the word.

Jesus explains two essential characteristics of life after death:

1. They will no longer be able to die. We must understand that they are freed from all biological processes. You can’t talk about illnesses, worries, difficulties, and the like here.
2. They will be called sons of God. This new life completely replaces life on earth, and we can understand it as entirely different. It is a new birth.

In the first part of the answer, Jesus points out a fundamental approach to these things. It is an answer not only for the Sadducees but also for us. So when he talks about life after death, he cannot stick to the evidence that applies to life here on earth because something completely different applies to life after the end. When a person convulsively clings to the earthly understanding of the matter after death in this matter, he will not avoid wrong and erroneous views, and delusions will occur. That is the first part of the answer of the Lord Jesus. It may seem harmful to some, so Jesus explains it even more to prove to the Sadducees that those who have died will rise from the dead. He will point to a document known to the Sadducees, which are the words concerning Moses, who is the greatest prophet for them. Lord Jesus says:“… when he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. And he is not the God of the dead, but of the living, because for him all live” (Luke 20:37-38).

This is a serious thing to think about. These are profound words. They believe that Moses is alive, so they speak against each other. Jesus no longer says. He proves nothing more to the Sadducees. He only pointed to the text of the Scriptures known to the Sadducees and confirmed that it speaks of the resurrection. By this, he clearly says of their lack of faith and respect due to the living and true God when they deny what is in the Scriptures. Thus, when we believe in the living God, we must trust and entrust everything to him. We realize that the Lord Jesus does not say anything further, but what he said is very serious. To deny the resurrection after our death would bring the true and living God to the level of pagan gods made of inanimate matter, wood, or metal. And yet none of us trusts such gods. For the belief in the afterlife, the behavior of the seven brothers from the Second Book of Maccabees is a great encouragement.

These brothers were brought before the pagan king, forcing them to renounce their faith by torture. However, their belief in a new life after death gave them courage in the most challenging moments. Shortly before his death, the second of the brothers cried out: “You evil-doer, you remove us from temporal life, but the Lord of the universe, for whose laws we die, will resurrect us for eternal life” (2 Mach 7:9). The third brother, who is to be mutilated, he stretches out his hands and says: “I received them from heaven, but because of God’s laws I do not consider them as nothing, because I hope that I will receive them again from him” (2 Mach 7,11).

Our belief in the resurrection is based on a promise from God. Although the Maccabees did not know what awaited them after death, they were convinced of the resurrection, which gave them the courage to endure torture and death. One may want to ask how they came to such a firm conviction. We must remember that this question was during a time of persecution. They had to calculate that there could be martyrdom. Therefore, the preparation for this step did not begin when they were brought before the king. Still, they had been preparing for this moment long before, when they accepted the teachings of the true od and thus the risk that was associated with their faith. Whoever carefully followed the text could discover one profound thing. It is impossible to believe in the resurrection, in eternal life, if a purely intellectual way of thinking leads to it without special commitment and acceptance of a particular risk. This affects all of us. After all, we live in times and in a world that tries to distort and reject specific spiritual values. This one, the world’s disapproval of the faith practiced by the world today, is why it is more difficult for this world to understand the behavior of the seven brothers.

Today, the objections to faith are less visible and violent but much more dangerous. We encounter the denial of spiritual values ​​that can be decently explained. And yet we witness many apostasies, which are preceded by the renunciation of a zealous environment and the reduction of the Church’s influence on society. This indifference to faith causes serious difficulties. Suppose we do not seriously listen and courageously fulfill the obligations of faith, which also entails renouncing the things of this world, and its mindset. In that case, we must be aware that it may happen that we soon stop believing in the resurrection. To persevere in the faith means to unite one’s wisdom with the teachings of the Church. Saint Paul the Apostle knew this when he wrote encouragingly to the Thessalonians to persevere in prayer: “Finally, brothers, pray for us that the word of the Lord may be spread and glorified as it is with you and that we may be delivered from perverted and evil people; for not all believe” (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2).

We realize that we are all exposed to harmful influences like the Thessalonians. May God save us from this! St. Paul asks God to strengthen the believers and endow them with perseverance in faith. The time of souls we are experiencing is a seriosevere time toking about the value of life and its purpose, and therefore let this moment of thinking about the existence of life after death strengthen us. May our faith grow and become stronger every day so we can overcome all difficulties because there may come even greater ones than those we are experiencing today. Still, the thought that it will all end one day and the reward will let it be a joyful prospect for us in the future.

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