Our Liturgy today is dominated with the assurance of an afterlife. It is a splendid hope. Life is not a journey to nowhere. It is a journey to the promised land of eternal life. This hope does not rest on anything human, but on the word and power of God.
The First reading is taken from 2 Maccabees. A feature of this book is its confident teaching on an afterlife. Our reading tells (in part) the story of the martyrdom of a mother and her seven sons. This is an example of the resistance of the Jews against their conquerors. The woman and her sons drew their strength from faith in the resurrection of the just. This, then is the connection between the Maccabees Reading and the Gospel for today.
Jesus is drawn into the argument which went on between the Sadducees and the Pharisees regarding the resurrection. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection; the Pharisees did. The Sadducees used the tactic of ‘reduction ad absurdum’ – reduce things to the absurd.
Jesus used their insincere inquiry as an opportunity to deliver a genuine teaching. The first thing he did was to challenge that the afterlife is just a continuation of this life, with some little extras thrown in. He made it clear that there is no comparison between this life and that of the resurrection.
Then he went on to use another argument to support belief in the resurrection of the dead. God is known as a God of the living. But he is also known as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This means that the patriarchs must still be living.
As Christians our hope of resurrection is founded on the love that God has shown us in Jesus. These readings are to help us to strengthen our faith as believers.