Commentary on the Gospel of

Luis Rodriguez, S.J. - Creighton University's Jesuit Community

The Sadducees were one of the two most important groups in Israel at the time of Jesus, the other group being the Pharisees. Both exhibited a tunnel vision in their faith understanding. The Pharisees’ tunnel vision was focused on the observance of all the Torah prescriptions: a litmus test. The Sadducees’ tunnel vision was focused on the temple rules, including, of course, the temple taxes, from which they profited: a different litmus test. As for the Sadducees’ beliefs, they excluded angels, spirits and the resurrection, as today’s gospel reading manifests. Today they confront Jesus with a hypothetical case to argue that the resurrection did not make sense, but in so doing they show a twofold misunderstanding.

First misunderstanding: there is no resurrection. Jesus does not enter into a debate with them, he just points out their own self-indictment. They acknowledged with Moses that God is the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob. So, Jesus reminds them that God is a God of the living, not of the dead, that for God Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are living. How can they say that there is no life after human death?

Second misunderstanding: if there were a resurrection, it would be “more of the same”. This was clearly a shortsighted extrapolation of the only experience of life that they knew. Years ago, I heard a preacher comment wittily on this misunderstanding: “If we could tell a cow that people were having a big banquet in the farm house, the cow would ‘think’: wow! They must be having gobs of fresh alfalfa”. For the Sadducees married life was their “fresh alfalfa”. We need to base our beliefs on more than just extrapolation.


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