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A third party rises

Gospel Commentary Lk 20:27-38 

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).


The ill-motivated scenario/question of the Sadducees gives Jesus a chance to open their eyes. He explains that the resurrection we will experience (and our departed ancestors await) is one that is a bodily resurrection but also one which intimately involves our souls, our spiritual selves. Once we die we will never die again. We are therefore immortal. In our next life we will be like angels, free from the darkness of this world and readily able to see and understand things as they are. We will not have the need to worry about the preservation of our family line nor our race because we will be in the place where death and the weakness of the flesh no longer hold sway. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — as well as our faithfully departed loved ones — are in this joyful place awaiting their bodily resurrection. We strive to live faithfully so as to share in this glorious and mysteriously better life.


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.


Fr. Zuberbueler is pastor of St. Louis Church in Alexandria.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016