Translated by Fray Emilio Larlar, Jr., OAR
A. Invocation to the Holy Spirit
Let us invoke the Holy Spirit with the words of St. Augustine.
Come Holy Spirit, by whom every pious soul who believes in Christ in order to make himself a citizen of the City of God is made holy! (En. in Ps. 45, 8). Come Holy Spirit, grant that we may receive the promptings of God, place in us Your fire, illumine us and raise us up to God (Sermon 128, 4).
With a willing heart, and with sincerity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing them to have an impact on you:
Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to him, saying, “Teacher. Moses wrote for us, ‘If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up a descendants for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all the seven had been married to her.” Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and remarry, but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels, and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. “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.
Let us meditate now with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Evangelist St. Luke:
(…) So that no one may say: “There-fore, if the incorruptibility cannot be possessed by corruptibility, how will be our body there?” listen to what follows. It seems as if it is asked of the Apostle: “What are you affirming? Is it that we believe in vain in the resurrection of the flesh? If flesh and blood will not possess the Kingdom of God, in vain do we believe that our Lord resurrected from the dead with the same body with which He was born and in which He was crucified, and that ascended to heaven in the presence of His Disciples, from where He shouted to you: Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4). With these questions the holy and blessed Apostle Paul found himself, who with pious love give birth to his children, begotten in Christ through the Gospel, for whom he was still in labor until Christ be formed in them (Gal. 4:19), that is, until they carry by faith the image of the man of heaven. He did not want that they may remain in condemnation by thinking that in the Kingdom of God, in eternal life, they were to do the same thing they were doing in this life, that is, to give in to the pleasure of eating and drinking, of taking a husband, or taking a wife and give birth to children. These are works of the corruptibility of the flesh, not the reality of the flesh. We do not have to resurrect for such things, as I have already mentioned before, the Lord made it very clear in the Gospel reading that we have read a while ago. The Jews certainly believed in the resurrection of the body, but they thought that it would be such that life then will be the same as the one they lived here. By thinking in this carnal way they could not respond to the Sadducees, who, with the regards to the resurrection, proposed to them the following question: Whose wife will be the woman whom seven brothers had successively had, each one wishing to raise up a descendant for their brother?” The Sadducees formed a sect within the Judaism which did not believe in the resurrection. The Jews, wavering and doubting, could not answer the Sadducees who posed to them such question, be-cause they thought that flesh and blood could possess the Kingdom of God, that is, that corruptibility could possess incorruptibility. Truth came, and the Sadducees, deceived and deceivers, ask the Lord proposing to Him the same question. The Lord, who knew what He was saying and wishing that we may believe what we were ignorant of, answers, with the authority of His majesty what we have to believe. The Apostle explained it in a measure that was granted him; we have to understand as far as it is possible for us. Therefore, what did the Lord say to the Sadducees? You err for not knowing the Scripture nor the power of God. In the resurrection they do not marry nor given to marriage, they do not die either, but they will be like the angels of God. Great is the power of God. Why don’t they marry nor given in marriage? Because they will not die. Every successor succeeds another. There, there will be no such corruptibility. And the Lord passed through all ages, from infancy until youth, because He still carried the mortality of the flesh; after resurrecting at the same age that He had when He was buried, do we have to believe that He has become old in heaven? They will be, He said, like the angels of God. He made what the Jews doubted disappear and refuted the calumnies of the Sadducees, since the Jews believed, yes, that the dead must resurrect, but they thought that carnally with regards to the works for those who would resurrect. They will be, He said, like the angels of God. Have you heard what is referred to the power of God; hear it also in the Scriptures. Have you not read, with regard to the resurrection, how the Lord spoke to Moses from the bush, telling him: “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is not a God of the dead, but of the living (Sermon 362, 18).
Let us pray now from the bottom of our heart with the text. I suggest to you the following phrases and questions that may arouse in you the dialogue with God, and, at the same time, may elicit affections and sentiments in your dialogue with God. Do not pass to the other phrase or question if you can still continue talking with God in some of them. It is not a matter of finishing this list, but of helping you to pray with those points that are most applicable to your personal experience:
- “Is it that we believe in vain in the resurrection of the body?” (Sermon 362, 18).
- What importance does the resurrection of Christ have for you?
- What believing in the resurrection of the body imply for you?
- “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob”. He is not God of the dead, but of the living; because for Him all are alive” (Lk 20:38).
- How do you show you faith in God of the living?
- What does the affirmation of Christ that for God “all are alive” mean?
I propose to you some points of affective inner contemplation. Once again, there is no need that you follow everything, but that you choose what is more applicable to your personal experience:
- Consider that God is God of the living and not of the dead. Reflect on how the Kingdom of God is the Kingdom of Life, of Light and Peace. Contemplate, adore and love.
- Contemplate the life of heaven incarnated in the angels who praise God without ceasing. Join in their loving and contemplative praise and live a moment of heavenly prayer of praise.
Think about everything you can share with those who surround you about the experience you have had of God, particularly with relation to that God is God of the living, and not of the dead, and about the happy life that awaits us in the Kingdom of Heaven. The following questions can help you as guide, in sharing with your community the experience of the lectio divina on this text:
- What have I discovered about God and about myself during this moment of prayer?
- How can I, in these moments of my life, apply this text of the Scriptures? What lights does it offer me? What challenges does it present to me?
- To what does this text of the Scripture concretely commit me in my spiritual life, in my community life?
- What has been my predominant feeling in this moment of prayer?
G. Final Prayer of St. Augustine
«He who loves God with all his heart, knows very well that nothing dies for him who does die for God, Lord of the living and the dead”. (De Vera Religione, 47, 91).