Some Catholics keep this day as the feast of the Presentation of the child Mary in the Temple. It is a scene that many Renaissance artists commemorated in beautiful paintings. However, since there is no record of its every having happened, you might want to turn your attention to the Gospel.
In Our lord’s time, every faction in Jerusalem was so troubled by the crowds favoring Jesus over them that they jointly agreed on fining a way of using the law to get rid of him.
After the failure of one group after another, the strangest group of all, the Sadducees, took a shot at it. They qualified as being Jewish, in that they took pride in being descended from Abraham Isaac, and Jacob; but they did not believe in an after-life.
Their strategy was to get Our Lord’s belief in the afterlife make him look ridiculous to the crowds.
Now, the Jews had a custom by which, if a married man died without a son to carry on his name, another of his brothers would need to take on his widow until she bore a son for her dead husband. It was called, “The Law of the Brother-in-law.”
So, the Sadducees, to make Our Lord’s belief appear ridiculous, made up a story of seven brothers in a row dying after taking on the one woman who didn’t bear a son.
The Sadducees asked Jesus which of the seven men would be her husband in heaven. They were trying to make Our Lord’s belief in an afterlife seem laughable, in that it would have his heaven appear as a place for multiple bed swapping.
Jesus turned the tables on the Sadducees. He reminded them that they professed to be children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So, by glorying themselves in those ancestors, they were implicitly saying that those ancestors were still alive.
I have been to funerals at which the preacher spoke of our lives in heaven as though he knew all about how it will be. Jesus, however, said very little about it. That should make us treasure this story in which he definitely says that our ancestors and others as well live on.
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