Dig Deeper into Sunday’s Gospel: Read Luke 20:27–38
My children are smarter than I am. I thought you should know, in case you want to ask them anything. In our house, when a child turns thirteen, they suddenly know everything. Before they used to ask me questions because they didn’t know the answer—now they ask me questions because they think I don’t know the answer.
My husband and I lovingly refer to this phase of parenting as the “velociraptor phase.” Do you remember the velociraptors from the Jurassic Park movie? They were the smartest of all the dinosaurs in the park, and when they tried to escape an electric fence, they would attack the fence in different parts, testing it systematically for weaknesses, always remembering where they had attacked it before. Sometimes it can feel like our teens are just testing the electric fence of our mental stamina.
In this Sunday’s gospel reading, the Sadducees remind me of the velociraptors—testing for weaknesses in Jesus’ teachings. This particular story is the third in a series of questions posed to Jesus in order to challenge His authority (Luke 20:1–8), find fault with His teaching and arrest Him (Luke 20:20–26), and humiliate Him (Luke 20:27–38).
The Sadducees approach Jesus and, referencing the levirate law of Moses, ask a hypothetical question about seven brothers who each marry the same woman when the previous brother dies. All seven brothers die childless, and then the woman dies. They ask Jesus: “Now at the resurrection, whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her” (Luke 20:33).
The Sadducees were priestly aristocrats who denied the idea of the resurrection of the dead, so their intent is to make the resurrection look ridiculous and therefore false. Jesus, however, shuts them down by giving a two-part answer. First, He says that life in the coming age is not the same as life is now—there is no need to raise up heirs in heaven because people will be like angels and will not die. Then He references Exodus 3:6 to show that God is a God of the living and not the dead.
At first, this passage can seem a bit like “inside baseball” to an outsider. You may think, Who cares if some Jews believed in the resurrection of the dead or not? Catholics profess the resurrection of the dead, and there’s extensive teaching on this topic in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (988).
On a recent retreat, Father John Hopkins said something that stuck with me: “Remember, in a disagreement, it’s often not about what it’s about.”
The Sadducees were not really looking for a clear answer on the resurrection of the dead. They wanted to humiliate Jesus publicly. They wanted to prove that they knew more than He did, and therefore delegitimize His authority.
Maybe you’re not questioning the Church on the teaching of the resurrection of the dead, but perhaps there is another teaching that you are wrestling with. Or maybe you aren’t wrestling with any Church teachings, per se, but you find it difficult to explain the what and the why of our beliefs to others. Experiencing difficulties in faith isn’t a bad thing; in fact, Father Dwight Longenecker says that these can actually help strengthen our faith, clarify our beliefs, and proclaim the gospel.
I’ve heard it said that curiosity is an ally of grace. Jesus can work with a curious and open heart. If we question Him with an open curiosity, no doubt Jesus will meet us there.
This perspective is what I hope to instill in my children (as the questions will, no doubt, continue).
Food for thought or journaling…
Which Church teaching do I want to understand more fully? How can I approach it with an open, humble, and curious heart in an effort to strengthen my faith, clarify my beliefs, or help me to better proclaim the gospel?
Lord, help me to have an open and curious heart toward Your teachings and Your Word. Let me confidently say, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
 Deuteronomy 25:5
 "That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” (Luke 20:37–38)
 Father Dwight Longenecker, “Blessed John Henry Newman Explains Faith Doubts and Difficulties,” September 16, 2022, https://www.ncregister.com/commentaries/blessed-john-henry-newman-explains-faith-doubts-and-difficulties.