The first reading speaks of seven brothers. They had an imperfect concept of the resurrection. They imagined it as an extension of the life of this world, nothing more.
The Pharisees, who firmly professed faith in the resurrection of the dead, continued to interpret it in a rather crude way.
They said that in the future life the joys of this life would be increased dramatically. In heaven, there would be no hunger, disease, suffering or misfortune. People would enjoy every pleasure.
Behind certain statements, certain prayers, certain questions of many Christians today, there still lurks an image of the resurrection of the dead similar to that of the Pharisees.
The resurrection mentioned by Jesus is completely different. For Jesus, a person lives on earth as a gestation. He prepares for a new birth after which there will be no other because the world he will enter will be final. In it, there will not be any form of death. Like the foetus in the mother’s womb that cannot imagine the world that awaits him, a person is not able to imagine how life will be with God.
We can approach this sublime and ineffable reality only through faith, believing that those things that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor any mind fathomed, God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9). In fact, there are no two lives—present and future—but one life that continues under two completely different forms.
Death, understood as the annihilation of the person, does not exist. It was defeated, destroyed by the death and resurrection of Christ. What we call death is simply the abandonment of the ephemeral form of life we lead in this world to be welcomed into God’s world.
The mortal body gets sick, withers, ages and undergoes dissolution and is not introduced into the eternal world. It remains in this world: the person is invested with another body “incorruptible, glorious, full of strength, spiritual” (1 Corinthians 15:42-43).
The resurrection of Christ demolished all barriers that separated the living from the dead. An intimate and deep bond unites all.
When on earth, we, the living, gather around the Eucharistic banquet, we are in communion with our brothers in heaven. We are confident that our memory rekindles our desire and hope to be united one day with Christ and with them.
We cannot imagine how life will be with God, but faith gives us the certainty that, after death, the person continues to live.
How can we imagine a God who creates people, establishes a covenant with them, makes a lot of promises, defends them from their opponents, considers himself their friend and then one day abandons them, makes them disappear in the dust and return to nothing?
If he behaved in this way, he would be the author of the project of death. However, Jesus says, he is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for he has compassion on all, because all is his and he is “a lover of life” (Wisdom 11:26).
“He did not make death nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living” (Wisdom 1:13). Nothing that has some connections with death can approach him.
• Father Fernando Armellini SCJ