A Third Party Rises
by Rev. Matthew H. Zuberbueler
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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Luke writes to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.
Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to Jesus, 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 but died childless. Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her." Jesus said to them, "The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called out 'Lord', the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and his is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."
When we listen to God’s word this Sunday it will be almost impossible for us to hear it outside the context of our national elections to be held in two days. The passage of the Gospel of Luke we hear may not seem to be instructive for us in an election sort of way, but perhaps God’s powerful Word can be of help to us.
The entirety of chapter 20 of Luke’s Gospel reads like a contentious political press conference in which two powerful parties try to score points. In this case, the parties are the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They are questioning Jesus who seems like a candidate from a third party, one which doesn’t stand with either of their parties. One can almost see the media cameras and reporters jockeying for position to record the moment when they finally trip Him up and catch Him admitting something that will discredit Him. “Waiting their chance, they sent spies to him in the guise of honest men to trap him in speech, so that they might then hand him over … ” (Lk 20:20). The way they pose their question is an admission of how odd he looks in their political climate: “Teacher, we know that your words and your doctrine are completely forthright, that you are no respecter of persons but teach the way of God in truth” (Lk 20:21).
These interactions between Jesus and the religious leaders who won’t welcome His teachings sadly remind us of so many situations in our daily news which even find the idea of truth something to be scoffed at and mocked. Of course, even relativistic thinkers and parties whose positions change based on shifts in polling data believe somehow that they are right and should have the power to lead the (ignorant and wrong?) multitudes. Jesus, of course, sees through their “transparency” and recognizes it as the duplicity it is (Lk 20:26).
The “press conference” continues with this Sunday’s Gospel (Lk 20:27-38). The next question comes from the Sadducee party, a question sure to trip Him up once and for all. Posing the seemingly unanswerable scenario of the woman with seven husbands on earth, they ask whose wife she will be in heaven. Convinced, as they are, that there is no future resurrection, the Sadducees roll the cameras to publicize the Master’s fall. Jesus calls out their blindness to the truth. In Mark’s account Jesus tells them they are “badly misled” and “fail to understand the Scriptures or the power of God” (Mk 12:24).
Jesus offers true (and therefore compelling) answers to the disputed questions of every age. His third party candidacy should therefore be successful: the party of Resurrection, Life and Truth. Write Him in to the divided and blind discourse of our day. We could be stronger together and great again.
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