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. (Luke 20:34-35)
I love songs that speak to human love. There are so many country songs that celebrate the connection between men and women and often leave the listener with an “ache” of longing to experience that sense of belonging and profound relationship. At my niece’s wedding the phrase: “forever happy” seemed to be the responsorial psalm of the moment. In their pledge of “forever love” they sought to be and make the other:” forever happy”. My more adult consciousness would not allow me to rest in their professed reality, instead I found myself thinking: “I wonder what happens when forever gets a little too long?” This is, of course, the privilege of 39 years of living out a commitment of love as a priest and being with my siblings who have each lived out at least 35 years of married life.
I had no need to interrupt their dream moment, so I kept the thoughts among my siblings who had also found themselves registering the ambition of youthful married life. Their marriage was a great moment of touching the deepest parts of our human longing, to be forever wrapped in love. Human marriage is a touchstone to this reality, but Jesus points us to a deeper reality in the Gospel today as he reflects on what happens after our life here has ended. We are children of God wrapped completely in his love. What our spouses give us as a taste of in our daily life opens up to the great reality of what is to become of us. So great is the power of this reality that we hear one of the young sons in the first reading proclaim to those who were torturing him:
"You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever. It is for his laws that we are dying." (2 Mac 7:2)
Although this is spoken before Jesus has come, it points out the development of the Jewish faith as they become more aware of the great promise of the forever love of the Father. There is still a group of Jewish people (the Sadducees) who cling to the more ancient thought of life happening through the next generations. Jesus affirms the faith of the Macabeans who risk life here because they are sure of the life to come.
This evening we gather to remember those who have gone before us to celebrate their homecoming and to pray that we who grieve their passing will be reunited with them in the forever love of the Father. In this we celebrate the fullness of human love which marriage points to.