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Gospel for Sunday, November 6 Luke 20: 27-38

XXXII Sunday C

27Then some Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, approached him and asked him this question: 28“Master, Moses commanded us: If a brother dies of someone who has a wife but no children, his brother should take the widow and give descendants to his brother. 29There were therefore seven brothers: the first, after having married, died without children. 30Then the second took it 31and then the third and so all seven; and they all died without leaving children. 32Finally the woman also died. 33So, in the resurrection, whose wife will this woman be? For all seven had her as their wives.” 34Jesus answered: “The children of this world marry and are given in marriage; 35but those who are judged worthy of the other world and of the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36nor can they die anymore, because they are equal to the angels and, being children of the resurrection, they are children of God. 37That the dead then rise again, Moses also indicated in relation to the bush, when he calls the Lord: God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob. 38God is not God of the dead, but of the living; because everyone lives for him!”.

Luke 20: 27-38

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

In Judaism at the beginning there was no concept of life after death: Sheol, the place of the dead, was a dark and gloomy region.

We read in the Psalms: “Do you perform wonders for the dead? Or do the shadows arise to praise you? Is your goodness celebrated in the tomb, your faithfulness in hell? Are your wonders perhaps known in the darkness, your justice in the land of oblivion?” (Ps 88,8.11-13; cf. 115,171-8). This is what Isaiah says: “I said, ‘I will no longer see the Lord in the land of the living, nor will I see any more of the inhabitants of this world'” (Is 38:10-12).

In the Old Testament texts there is only some intuition of a life after death (Ps 49.16; 73.26). Ezekiel has a vision: “The Lord God says: ‘Behold, I will open your tombs and raise you up from your graves, my people, and bring you back to the land of Israel'” (Ez 37,11-14). And Isaiah: “God will eliminate death forever” (Is 25.8; cf. 26.19). Job makes a solemn profession of Faith in the Resurrection: “After this skin of mine is destroyed, without my flesh, I will see God (Job 19.25-27). But even in the book of Job it remains an isolated proclamation, in a context of absolute pessimism regarding an afterlife.

Only the apocalyptic, now almost on the threshold of the New Testament, will affirm: “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awaken” (Dan 12,2). This will be said of the Maccabee martyrs, but by now in the 2nd century BC. C. (2 Mac 9,8-14). The book of Wisdom, written about fifty years before the birth of Jesus, states: “The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God… In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to die…: but they are at peace” (Wis 3,1 -9).

But the affirmations of some future survival, motivated by the fact that God being faithful and a lover of men, could not abandon them to the power of death, found it difficult to impose themselves in Jesus’ time. This is why the dominant priestly class, that of the Sadducees, provocatively comes to Jesus to ask him, almost light-heartedly, whose wife she would be, at the resurrection, a woman who, having been widowed seven times, had remarried as many times, according to the law of the levirate (Dt 25,5-10), also with the six brothers of her deceased first husband (Lk 20,27-38).

At the time of Jesus only the Pharisees and Essenes admitted the resurrection (Mt 22,23-38).

But already “Jesus interprets that the faith of Moses was already faith in the “God of the living and not of the dead” (Lk 20,38), and the New Testament traces the faith in the resurrection of the dead back to Abraham, who “thought whom God is able to raise even from the dead” (Heb 11:19)… This faith, mocked by the Sadducees, assumed by the Pharisees and the Essenes, will also be the hope of Jesus, and the Gospels give us solid testimony to this. Jesus announces that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are alive in God (Lk 20.38), and promises the thief crucified with him: «Today with me you will be in paradise» (Lk 23.43)” (E. Bianchi).

Jesus assures us: “In my Father’s house there are many places. If not, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you; when I go and prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me, so that you also may be where I am” (Jn 14,2-4); and that in the end we will be told: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Mt 25.34).

Paul then states: “How can some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection from the dead, not even Christ was resurrected…! In fact, if the dead are not resurrected, not even Christ is resurrected… Now, however, Christ is resurrected from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died…; and as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ” (1 Cor 15,12-23).

The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Contemporary World of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council states: “The Church, instructed by divine revelation, affirms that man was created by God for the purpose of happiness beyond the confines of earthly misery. Furthermore, as the Christian faith teaches, corporal death, from which man would have been exempt if he had not sinned, will be overcome when man is returned to the state lost due to sin by the omnipotence and mercy of the Savior. In fact, God has called and calls man to cling to him with his whole nature in perpetual communion with the incorruptible divine life. Christ conquered this victory by rising to life, after having freed man from death through his death. Revelation, offering itself with solid arguments to anyone who wants to reflect, gives an answer to their anxieties about the future fate… Such and so great is the mystery of man that manifests itself in the eyes of believers through Christian revelation! Through Christ and in Christ that enigma of pain and death comes to light, which without his Gospel would be unbearable. Christ is risen, destroying death with his death, and has given us life, so that, children in the Son, we exclaim in the Spirit: «Abba, Father!»” (Nn. 18.22); “We do not know the time when the earth and humanity will end, and we do not know how the universe will be transformed. The appearance of this world, deformed by sin, certainly passes. However, we know, from revelation, that… happiness will abundantly satisfy all the desires for peace that arise in the hearts of men. Then, having overcome death, the children of God will be resurrected in Christ, and what was sown in infirmity and corruption will take on incorruption; and while charity remains with its fruits, all that reality that God created precisely for man will be freed from the slavery of vanity” (n. 39).

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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