2 MC 7:1-2, 9-14; 2 Thes 2:16-3:5; Lk 20:27-38.

Turning Over Stones

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas are underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots for you.

A Few words about the Sadducees is in order so that a tone can be established in the Gospel reading this Sunday. The Sadducees were very wealthy, nearly all were priests, they were the governing class, they accepted only the written law of the Old Testament, they particularly stressed the law of Moses, they invested nothing in the prophetic books, they did not believe in the resurrection from the dead, angels or spirits. They believed that for better or for worse man operated with unrestricted free will. They did not believe in the coming of a Messiah.

The Sadducees wanted a very simple and structured predictable life. They wanted things neat and orderly. They wanted no surprises. They wanted nothing left to speculation. They wanted the future to be predictable and they did not want to have to use their imaginations to wrestle with the unknown.

To be blunt, their question in the Gospel is not, in the least, sincere and the example that they use regarding the 7 brothers is purposely meant to sound outrageously silly in order to ridicule a belief in the resurrection.

In fact, I wonder if they sincerely expected a response from Jesus. In other words, the unbelievable example that they pose, and that the reader of the Gospel reads, should sound so over-the-top and belittling that the tone should clearly radiate sarcasm and lampoon.

If a lector reads this story of the 7 brothers with a sterile, as-a-matter-of-fact tone then the intended mood of the confrontation between the Sadducees and Jesus will be lost.

When Jesus does respond in a rational, well thought out explanation using the very figure that they had invoked -- Moses -- a reader should see in his minds eye a look of disbelief on the faces of the Sadducees. In other words, one should picture the Sadducees practically turning and walking away after they pose the question to Jesus as if they did not expect one word of response -- as if they had just posed the perfect question to sink any belief in the resurrection.

Yet, Jesus does respond. In the end, we must not think of heaven in terms of this earth. Heaven will be quite different. We will be quite different. In fact, the Kingdom of God here on earth as well as the new and eternal Jerusalem in Heaven are both very different than our expectations according to Jesus.

We may believe in the resurrection as Catholics, but perhaps this is a good weekend to think about the other sayings of Jesus that may strike us as so unbelievable that we may find ourselves as narrow-minded as the Sadducees.

Perhaps it is time to think different, to think outside the box, to see things in a new perspective like the students of Mr. Keating in the movie Dead Poets Society who are asked to stand on the teachers desk and look around the room. We may laugh at the narrowmindedness of the Sadducees, but perhaps it is also time to laugh at ourselves and challenge ourselves if we are only choosing our beliefs as if we are in a Cafeteria line.

Do you believe these words or sentiments from Jesus:

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Every time food is given to the hungry, a drink is given to the thirsty, a welcome is given to the stranger, clothing is given to the naked, care is given to the ill, a visit is made to the lonely, it is done to Jesus himself.

The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.

Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.

Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.

Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Fathers glory with the holy angels.

It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.

If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, I repent, you must forgive him.

There are many more out there, but those are a few. Blessed preaching.

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