Thirty-Second Sunday of the Year
In his debate with the Sadducees, the more conservative party within Judaism, in today’s gospel, Jesus takes the side of the Pharisees, his more usual opponents, since they, like him, believed in the resurrection of the dead, while the Sadducees did not. The Sadducees present him with an absurd situation but one that betrayed their own self-interest. They believed that their name (and wealth) would only be carried on after death by their children; the levirate law of Judaism (Deut 25:5-10) by which a woman married her deceased husband’s brother would ensure this.
Jesus cuts through their subtle arguments to insist on the reality of life after death but shows that it will be a transformed life, different in quality from what we have now, a life with the living God. The fellowship with God we have enjoyed in this life demands a continuing relationship after death, as the mother in the first reading expected for her martyred sons, and today’s responsorial psalm clearly illustrates: As for me in my justice I shall see your face and be filled, when I awake with the sight of your glory. I remember once saying this psalm with someone who was terminally ill with cancer and she asked me to repeat it over and over again.
We are in the month of November, a month in which we remember those gone before us. We remember them, not just as they were when we knew them in life, but as a presence still with us. The understanding of the Communion of Saints, the bond between the living and dead, has always been strong in the Dominican Order and so, in gratitude to God, we remember today all those who have gone before us.
The picture, from the website of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, illustrates the legend that St. Dominic was upset when he couldn’t see any of his followers in heaven, whereupon Mary opened her mantle and there they were. This picture includes not only the friars and the nuns but the whole Dominican family in its varied manifestations.