So from August 30th to October 10th, I performed or attended eleven funerals, three weddings, and two baptisms. There’s a joke in there somewhere, I just know it, or at least a movie title. So much of what a priest does somehow involves the so-called cycle of ‘hatch, match, and dispatch’ that the saying itself exists.
Baptisms are almost always joyous affairs; the same can’t always be said for the weddings and certainly not for the funerals, and yet our culture is obsessed with both marriage and death.
We fight political and religious wars around the manner in which both of these things can be executed, so to speak, and about what happens after either is executed. This is nothing new, as our Gospel illustrates for us today.
The Sadducees come to Jesus with a question that seems simple enough on the face of it. But the problem is that the Sadducees are asking a question not to get an answer but to prove a point in their belief system, that there is no resurrection, no life after death. They get an answer they didn’t expect.
So a “man dies, leaving a widow. His brother marries her. This little scenario is repeated until seven brothers have married the woman. The Sadducees want to know who will be her husband in heaven. “Remember, seven married her.”” No one there asked the obvious question of why, say, the fifth brother married her, considering the fate of the first four.
“Christ’s response is that in the life to come there will be no marriage. “They become like angels and are no longer liable to death. God is not the God of the dead but of the living. All are alive for God.””
“But a question remains unanswered. What is the nature of the relationship between the resurrected life and this present one? What is the connection?” Is heaven completely different than earth? Are we completely different there as opposed to here?
This is not an easy question to answer, and there are, as you would imagine, many views on the subject, too many to put forth here. So to waaaaaay oversimplify a rather orthodox Anglican view of it: Yes, life in heaven is completely different from life here, and no, we are not completely different. We’re still us. Our choices follow us and continue in the afterlife.
As C.S. Lewis put it, those who cling to their fears, who hug for dear life their resentments, who refuse to let go of their prisons, can only be given what they endlessly demand.
Those, however, who give their lives in hope and trust, who cast themselves into the arms of the living God, no matter what their shame or sorrow, find what their hearts desired.
That desire, as our wedding liturgy states more than once, is a desire for something like a marriage with God, a union between Christ and His Church that cannot be rent asunder, with a spiritual intimacy that nothing in this life can match. Heaven is, and again, this isn’t a new idea, like a marriage feast put on for the wedding of Christ and us, the Church.
So I guess marriage and death (and baptism, for that matter), are more related than we, or the Sadducees, for their part, perhaps usually realize. There’s a joke in there somewhere, I’m sure.
 Quotes from John Kavanaugh, SJ: https://liturgy.slu.edu/32OrdC111019/theword_kavanaugh.html