TEXT & VIDEO – Whose wife / husband will she / he be? The arrogance of the knowledge. A meditation for a week (Mark 12:18-27) [3 June 2020]

The text chosen as the basis of today’s meditation is a short one, but it provokes many questions. Christians agree that we cannot think about spiritual realities by trying to understand them using the “measures” we apply to life in the body, to material life. When the Sadducees ask Jesus whose wife will be the one who had seven brothers, who died one after the other, leaving the woman a widow, they do not look for an answer. They are not able to think beyond the “measure” applied to the material world, to life in the flesh. And they are simply convinced that what they cannot think or understand does not exist. How arrogant do we have to be to believe that? And yet how many of our fellows, unfortunately, think the same.

Jesus sends them directly to the texts of Scriptures which they quote in their celebrations and teachings. He reminds them that the God they proclaim is the God of Abraham, the living, not the dead. It was not his God, it is. He is a God of the living. It is clear that here Jesus is talking about Abraham in the flesh and after his death. He shows that this is a relationship that is continuous and has not been just for a while. If we do not understand this, it does not mean that it is not true. How arrogant could we be to consider that the measure of our understanding is proof of the existence of something we understand and proof of the non-existence of something we do not understand? That was the arrogance, the mistake of the Sadducees.

Friends, students, members of the communities where I used to work accepted that we can not use our understanding as proof of the existence or non-existence of something, but always remained one question: but what about the uniqueness of the relationship of love, marriage? Here they are right. Every relationship has an uniqueness. It cannot be compared to any other. We can build relationships with everyone around us, but our relationship with each other is different from any other with another person. We cannot simply ask or answer whose wife or husband or friend we will be, because it is not a possession relationship. It is simply a relationship of existence. And existence has different forms in the bodily, material life, and certainly has different forms in the spiritual life, in which we believe and which we confess, even if we are not yet able to understand it.

I was just talking about the uniqueness of each relationship. To better understand, let’s call all kinds of interpersonal relationships love. Our love is not of the same nature in relation to each individual. Now let’s turn love into colour. We all know that white is the combination of the whole spectrum of colours, when we talk about light. Let us call light the interpersonal relationship and the relationship with God as everything, universal, not individual. But we will see that in this white light of universal relationship with people and as humanity with God appear billions of colour tones of interpersonal relationships and individual relationships with God.

In his novel, The Shack, WM Paul Young explains this reality so beautifully. ”Suppose (…) that you are hanging out with a friend at your local coffee shop. You are focused on your companion and if you had eyes to see, the two of you would be enveloped in an array of colours and light, which mark not only your uniqueness as individuals but also the uniqueness of the relationship between you and the emotions you’d be experiencing in that moment. (…) Suppose (…) that another person whom you love enters the coffee shop (…), a unique combination of colour and light would leave you and wrap itself around the one who had just entered, representing you in another form of loving and greeting that one”.

And we know that the story presented by the Sadducees is absurd, but even so the woman’s marriage relationship is clearly different with each of the alleged spouses. It can’t be the same, because they are different people. What the Sadducees want to deny is the resurrection because they do not perceive the resurrection of bodies. It’s the same arrogance. They do not accept because they do not understand. We confess that we believe in the resurrection of the dead. How it will happen, we do not know, we do not understand. Jesus points out to the Sadducees: ”You are badly mistaken!” (Mark 12:27b).

We don’t know what it will be like. We do not have the necessary terms to describe it. We cannot use the same terms we use to understand the material world. Let us give up the arrogance of our knowledge and let us love in the humble joy of each day, in the belief that our love is eternal. This certainly helps especially in these days full of uncertainty due to the chaos caused by the pandemic.

(Revd. Bernard Noghiu, Southend on Sea, 2 May 2020)

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