Scripture readings for 11/10
The readings for the Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost assure us God will curb evil and overcome death with resurrection. Our eternal life, begun in the waters of Baptism, will find its completion on the Last Day. As we wait for life in a new creation, we can begin to act now as if we are already living there.
- In the Gospel reading, the Sadducees—a wealthy priestly group—ask Jesus a question about the resurrection from the dead (a doctrine that they did not support). His response rejects their view and foreshadows his own resurrection.
- The Old Testament reading is the story Jesus quotes in the Gospel reading. At the burning bush, God told Moses his gracious plans for Israel’s future.
- The New Testament reading assures us we don’t have to worry about missing out on the resurrection. It is our hope and comfort and Jesus wants us to stand firm until that day.
The Gospel reading:
The Sadducees were a materialistic group of religious leaders who rejected scriptural teachings which did not square with their logic. One such question was that of the resurrection. They tried to prove the resurrection was absurd by using an extreme example (based on Deuteronomy 25:5-10). Jesus answered in two parts.
Firstly, Jesus declared their question to be irrelevant. He suggested that marriage is appropriate only for the period leading up to resurrection and immortality. Because there will be no death, there will be no need for birth, and therefore no need for marriage. (In that one comparison, people will be like angels; people will not be angels.)
Secondly, since the Sadducees appealed to Moses from Deuteronomy, Jesus countered with a story about Moses from Exodus 3:2-6. Although Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were dead, when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush he described his relationship with them using the present tense (“I am, their God” not, “I was their God”). Only living people can have a god; therefore they must experience life after their death. And because human existence requires a body, their ongoing existence proves the truth of the resurrection. We are “God’s living children . . . children of the resurrection.”
The Old Testament reading:
This reading is the story of Moses at the burning bush, from which Jesus quoted in the Gospel reading. Metaphorically, we can understand the Hebrews’ condition in slavery in Egypt as ‘death.’ God called Moses as his instrument to bring his people out of that condition, a ‘resurrection.’ The work God did in the past is the same as the work he has done through Jesus, is still doing today, and will finish in the future.
God appeared to do all the work himself of saving his people from Egypt. God also appeared in the manger of Bethlehem, doing all the work himself of keeping the law, and saving his people from death by going through death and showing it to be temporary.
Salvation has been accomplished by Christ, but it has not yet been concluded. Each day in Baptism we too drown our old sinful natures so that a new person can rise to life (Romans 6:4). This is the first resurrection, spiritually (Revelation 20:5), but the second, physical resurrection is still to come. Today we are living in the “already” and the “not yet” as we wait in faithfulness for Jesus to return.
The New Testament reading:
2 Thessalonians 2:1-8, 13-17
In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Paul had urged the Thessalonians not to worry about the timing of the Day of the Lord, but instead to focus on how they should live in anticipation of Christ’s return. Apparently, someone in the Thessalonian church community had been spreading wrong information in Paul’s name, saying that God’s final act of justice on human evil had already come and they had missed it.
In this chapter, St. Paul reminded the Thessalonians of all he had taught them about Jesus’ return when he was still in town, writing here only a short summary (in fact, a little too short!, so it is difficult to understand). Before the second coming of Christ occurs, the antichrist (man of lawlessness) must appear in the church (temple). This figure will lead a widespread rebellion against the truth of Christ. But is he is doomed. When Jesus returns, he will confront “the Rebel” and all those who do evil, delivering his people as he had in the Exodus.
St. Paul’s point here was not to give later readers fuel for apocalyptic speculation. Rather, he’s trying to comfort the Thessalonians by recalling the teaching of Jesus, who said that the events leading up to his return will be very public and very obvious (see Mark 13). In other words, they don’t need to be scared or worried that they’ve been abandoned, but they do need to stay faithful until Jesus returns to deliver them.
Christians can be comforted by the effective saving plan of God through their election, calling, and sanctifying to their final glorification in resurrection (v.13-14). Our relationship with God began even before the foundations of the earth were laid. We have been connected with him through Baptism, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and strengthened to stand firm until the end.