9th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: 2 Tim 1:1–3, 6–12
From Paul, apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of his promise of eternal life in Christ Jesus, to my dear son Timothy.
May grace, mercy and peace be with you from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I give thanks to God whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my ancestors did, as I remember you constantly, day and night, in my prayers.
For this reason I invite you to fan into a flame the gift of God you received through the laying on of my hands. For God did not confer on us a spirit of bashfulness, but of strength, love and good judgment. Do not be ashamed of testifying to our Lord, nor of seeing me in chains. On the contrary, do your share in laboring for the Gospel with the strength of God. He saved us and called us—a calling which proceeds from his holiness. This did not depend on our merits, but on his generosity and his own initiative. This calling given to us from all time in Christ Jesus has just been manifested with the glorious appearance of Christ Jesus, our Lord, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light in his Gospel. Of this message I was made herald, apostle and teacher.
For its sake I now suffer this trial, but I am not ashamed, for I know in whom I have believed and I am convinced that he is capable of taking care of all I have entrusted to him until that day.
Gospel: Mark 12:18-27
The Sadducees came to Jesus. Since they claim that there is no resurrection, they questioned him in this way, “Master, in the Scriptures Moses gave us this law: ‘If anyone dies and leaves a wife but no children, his brother must take the wife and give her a child who will be considered the child of his deceased brother.’ Now, there were seven brothers. The first married a wife, but he died without leaving any children. The second took the wife and he, too, died leaving no children. The same thing happened to the third. Finally the seven died leaving no children. Last of all the woman died. Now, in the resurrection, to which of them will she be wife? For the seven had her as wife.”
Jesus replied, “You could be wrong in this regard because you understand neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. When they rise from the dead, men and women do not marry but are like the angels in heaven.
“Now, about the resurrection of the dead, have you never reflected on the chapter of the burning bush in the book of Moses? God said to him: I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now, he is the God, not of the dead but of the living. You are totally wrong.”
If you thought that questions were always neutral requests for information, these passages show you otherwise. The Saducees did not believe in life-after-death, but here they are, asking a question, the point of which is to reduce such a belief to absurdity. But Jesus did not tailor his answer to please them: the dead, he said, will be “like the angels in heaven.” He knew that the Saducees did not believe in the existence of angels, any more than they believed in a next life. It is a lesson in how to deal with dishonest questions: do not give up your ground, do not backtrack.
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