The Seven Brothers

LECTIO DIVINA

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), 30 October 2016

PRAYER TO THE HOLY SPIRIT

Lord, you have enriched me with the strength of your word. You have opened my mind and heart to see the wonders you have created. You have blessed me with the gift of communication to share your divine message.

Holy Spirit, help me to understand the power of these gifts,
and teach me to use them wisely. Bless all who use their talents to communicate the Gospel. Guide those who work
in the field of communications to use their power for the good of your people. This we ask through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen,

LECTIO. What does the Biblical text say?

Luke 20:27–38

NAB

27 Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward 28 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. 29 Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. 30 Then the second 31 and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. 32 Finally the woman also died. 33 Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.”

34 Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and remarry; 35 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. 36 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.

37 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 he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” ~


NRSV

27 Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him28 and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; 30 then the second 31 and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. 32 Finally the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.”

34 Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; 35 but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36 Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 37 And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”


Magandang Balita Biblia

27 Ilang Saduseo naman ang lumapit kay Jesus. Ang mga ito ay nagtuturong walang muling pagkabuhay ng mga patay. 28 Sabi nila, “Guro, isinulat ni Moises para sa atin ang batas na ito, ‘Kung mamatay ang isang lalaki at maiwang walang anak ang kanyang asawa, ang kapatid ng lalaki’y dapat pakasal sa biyuda upang magkaanak sila para sa namatay.’ 29 Mayroong pitong magkakapatid na lalaki. Nag-asawa ang panganay at namatay na walang anak. 30 Nagpakasal sa biyuda ang pangalawa, subalit ito’y namatay ding walang anak. 31 Ganoon din ang nangyari sa pangatlo hanggang sa pampito. At silang lahat ay namatay na walang anak. 32 Sa kahuli-hulihan, namatay naman ang babae. 33 Ngayon, sa muling pagkabuhay, sino sa pito ang kikilalaning asawa ng babae, yamang silang lahat ay napangasawa niya?”

34 Sumagot si Jesus, “Sa buhay na ito, ang mga lalaki at mga babae ay nag-aasawa. 35 Ngunit ang mga lalaki’t babaing karapat-dapat na mapasama sa muling pagkabuhay ay hindi na mag-aasawa. 36 Hindi na rin sila mamamatay sapagkat matutulad sila sa mga anghel. Sila’y mga anak ng Diyos dahil sila’y napabilang sa mga muling binuhay. 37 Maging si Moises ay nagpapatunay na muling binubuhay ang mga patay. Sapagkat sa salaysay tungkol sa nagliliyab na mababang puno, ang Panginoon ay tinawag niyang ‘Diyos ni Abraham, Diyos ni Isaac at Diyos ni Jacob.’ 38 Ang Diyos ay hindi Diyos ng mga patay kundi ng mga buháy, sa kanya’y nabubuhay ang lahat.” ~

MEDITATIO. What does the Lord say in His Word?

Some insights on the Word.

THE GOD OF THE LIVING

The journey narrative to Jerusalem that began in Luke 9:51 leads up to the cleansing of the Temple in the last verses of Luke 19. At this point, Jesus now teaches in Jerusalem, at the Temple area and this has now become his daily activity. We find him “proclaiming the good news” (Luke 20:1), as what he had been doing throughout his ministry. The usual interlocutors are present and the atmosphere of Jesus’ preaching in Jerusalem becomes more intense as “the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death” (Luke 19:47). These groups trigger the different themes that Jesus deals with and the questions that they pose are actually traps so that they could hand him over to the authority.

Among these questions is this present discussion on the resurrection. The Sadducees were the ones who ask Jesus the question and this is the first instance that they appear in Luke, an appearance that is expected insofar as they are connected with the Temple. This group is best known for their tenet denying the resurrection which the evangelist indicates at their introduction into the episode. They present to Jesus a case illustrating what is known as the “levirate marriage,” where a man marries the wife of his brother (or nearest relative) who died so that he could continue the name of the deceased brother, and thus, in one way, keep him alive. The Law provides this text: “When brothers live together and one of them dies without a son, the widow of the deceased shall not marry anyone outside the family; but her husband’s brother shall go to her and perform the duty of a brother-in-law by marrying her” (Deut 25:5). We see this exemplified in the Old Testament, as in the story of Judah and Tamar (Gen 38:6–11) and in that of Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 3:9–4:10).

As in the other episodes in this section where Jesus taught at the Temple, the interlocutors are giving Jesus a dilemma by putting forward what is in the Law (to which Jesus must agree) and at the same time, their agenda, in this case through sarcasm, to point to the absurdity of the resurrection. The ridiculous case is concisely constructed: “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.”

It is pitting the Mosaic Law, that apparently views immortality only in terms of the posterity of the name, against that of the belief in resurrection where the soul is seen to live after life in this world.

Jesus slips through the horns of the dilemma: the afterlife is different from the present life! He distinguishes between the children of this age and those who are deemed worthy of the resurrection. In this age, there is marriage and remarriage; in the coming age, there is no more marriage. Jesus gives a reason for the immortality of those worthy of resurrection: they are like angels and thus will never die. Since they will not die, there will be no more need for marriage. The answer of Jesus makes the whole question of the Sadducees irrelevant.
The Sadducees premised their question on what Moses wrote; Jesus concluded his response with a reference to Moses. He says that the resurrection is confirmed by Scripture, when the Lord spoke to Moses through the burning bush. Jesus says that Moses spoke of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He is the same God of all these generations as he is the God of Moses. Thus, he is one who never dies! The Lord is described as the “living God” many times in Sacred Scripture. But there is something more: here, Jesus confirms further that the Lord is the God of the living. The patriarchs continue to exist because the Lord remains “their God”; for the covenant to last, they should continue to exist. They continue to have life because of this relationship with God.

Luke affirms the soundness of Jesus’ arguments by the verse that immediately follows our text: an approbation of Jesus’ words by the scribes who were listening to him: “Teacher, you have answered well” (Luke 20:39), which also put an end to the series of challenging questions posed to Jesus.

The text from Scripture that we have read confirms a tenet of our faith, that we continue existing after our earthly life. It also tells us about the nature of that life—that it is different from this life and that we would never die again. We know that our existence in this world depends on God; the life that comes after this earthly existence is also on account of God. We will live because of him; our immortality is due to our relationship with the living God.

Questions for meditation:

1. In our Creed, we profess our belief in the resurrection. How do I understand this, as well as the other teachings of the Church concerning the last things? What concept of resurrection do I have? How do I explain these to people who seek for answers regarding this article of faith?

2. “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob… he is not God of the dead, but of the living.” What insights do I have about who God is when I come upon this Scriptural passage?

ORATIO. What do we say to the Lord, motivated by His Word?

This is the time for invocation. Prayer is responding to God after having listened to him. It is our assent to his will and his plan for us. Saint Augustine says, “Your prayer is talking to God. When you read Sacred Scripture, God speaks to you; when you pray, you speak to God.” We spend about 5 minutes in silence lifting our words to God.

After our moment of silence, we shall altogether say Psalm 17:

1 Hear, Lord, my plea for justice;
pay heed to my cry;
Listen to my prayer
from lips without guile.

2 From you let my vindication come;
your eyes see what is right.
3 You have tested my heart,
searched it in the night.
You have tried me by fire,
but find no malice in me.

My mouth has not transgressed
4 as others often do.
As your lips have instructed me,
I have kept from the way of the lawless.

5 My steps have kept to your paths;
my feet have not faltered.
6 I call upon you; answer me, O God.
Turn your ear to me; hear my speech.

7 Show your wonderful mercy,
you who deliver with your right arm
those who seek refuge from their foes.
8 Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings
9 from the wicked who despoil me.

My ravenous enemies press upon me;
10 they close their hearts,
they fill their mouths with proud roaring.
11 Their steps even now encircle me;
they watch closely, keeping low to the ground,
12 Like lions eager for prey,
like a young lion lurking in ambush.

13 Rise, O Lord, confront and cast them down;
rescue my soul from the wicked.
14 Slay them with your sword;
with your hand, Lord, slay them;
snatch them from the world in their prime.
Their bellies are being filled with your friends;
their children are satisfied too,
for they share what is left with their young.

15 I am just—let me see your face;
when I awake, let me be filled with your presence.

CONTEMPLATIO. What conversion is asked for by the contemplation of the Lord?

Having lifted our prayers to the Lord, we simply rest in His presence. He has used his Word to invite us to accept His transforming embrace. Let his words linger, ever now as we feel him in his wordless, quiet presence. Let the rest of our week, especially those moments that we choose to spend in silence, be a time to simply enjoy the experience of being in the presence of God.

Fr. Joel N. Camaya, SDB
SALESIANS OF DON BOSCO
Philippines – North Province

[fa class=”fa fa-file-pdf-o fa-2x teal”] Lectio Divina for the 32nd Sunday In Ordinary Time (C) by Fr Joel N Camaya SDB
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