I used to find this Gospel reading particularly challenging. And I used to take it pretty personally. But I’ve come to realize that what it presents is a true and beautiful vision of Heaven. Hard to fathom, but impossible to deny.
My love for my husband and my union with him is inextricably tied to my devotion to my faith. It was during our (brief) courtship and engagement that we began to explore Catholic doctrine and traditions, and to learn what the Church teaches and why. We attended Mass together. I learned how to say the Rosary. And for the first time in my life, I sat down and read Scripture.
Which is great, by the way. But you know that; that's why you're here.
I remember my frustration as I read this story. As Jesus is teaching in the temple, the Sadducees (they are sad, you see, because they don’t believe in a resurrection) come up, and ask Him a question that appears designed to stump Him.
"Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. And the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife."
Well, Jesus isn’t stumped, of course. And neither does He give an answer the Sadducees (or I) was expecting.
"Those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God."
As a bride-to-be, I wasn’t very happy that Jesus seemed to me to be saying that I wouldn't get to still be married to my husband in Heaven.
But that’s NOT what Jesus is saying. He’s just telling us: Heaven is bigger than that. It's bigger than us; it's bigger than marriage; it's bigger than EVERYTHING. When we've run this race, and God-willing, are standing in front of Saint Peter at those Pearly Gates, we will be "like angels." We will have hearts and minds that can hold a love like we have for a spouse . . . for EVERYONE.
If I died tomorrow and my husband ended up with a succession of six more wives, and we all met up in Heaven, I would love each one of those women with my whole heart. There would be no jealousy, no misunderstanding, no hurt feelings. Just love.
It's not that I will somehow LOSE the bond I have with my husband, it's that I will GAIN a perfect love with every member of the Church triumphant. And that sounds pretty great.
Now . . . to get there.
photo credit -> source
Kendra Tierney can be found tending nine chickens, seven children, and one husband in Los Angeles, CA. You can find out more about her here.