bible blog 299

This blog follows the daily bible readings of the Catholic Church
Reading 1, Revelation 11:4-12

4 These are the two olive trees and the two lamps in attendance on the Lord of the world. 5 Fire comes from their mouths and consumes their enemies if anyone tries to harm them; and anyone who tries to harm them will certainly be killed in this way.
6 They have the power to lock up the sky so that it does not rain as long as they are prophesying; they have the power to turn water into blood and strike the whole world with any plague as often as they like. 7 When they have completed their witnessing, the beast that comes out of the Abyss is going to make war on them and overcome them and kill them. 8 Their corpses lie in the main street of the great city known by the symbolic names Sodom and Egypt, in which their Lord was crucified. 9 People of every race, tribe, language and nation stare at their corpses, for three-and-a-half days, not letting them be buried, 10 and the people of the world are glad about it and celebrate the event by giving presents to each other, because these two prophets have been a plague to the people of the world.’ 11 After the three-and-a-half days, God breathed life into them and they stood up on their feet, and everybody who saw it happen was terrified; 12 then I heard a loud voice from heaven say to them, ‘Come up here,’ and while their enemies were watching, they went up to heaven in a cloud.

The two witnesses who are compared with the two olive trees mentioned in Zechariah 4, where they stand for Joshua the Priest and Zerubbabel the King, respectively the religious and secular leaders of the people. Here they probably signify the same functions. The ideal priest and the ideal king prophesy for God’s justice, and are killed, their bodies lying in the streets of the world empire Rome. This is a clear enough picture of the fate of those who stand against Rome’s idea of justice: their defeat becomes a spectacle for the idle mob. This is what happens to those who stand against the rulers of Iran or China or Burma or International Oil or South American Logging Interests or homophobic religion. Three and a half days is the symbolic time of “The suffering of the Messiah” after which God will justify his faithful ones. To all those whose witness for religious or political truth has brought them suffering the prophet gives encouragement by his image of God’s acknowledgement and rescue.

All Christian churches should give thanks this Sunday for the liberation of one faithful witness, Aung San Ssu Kyi, and should express their approval to the Burmese government.

Gospel, Luke 20:27-40
27 Some Sadducees — those who argue that there is no resurrection — approached him and they put this question to him,
28 ‘Master, Moses prescribed for us, if a man’s married brother dies childless, the man must marry the widow to raise up children for his brother. 29 Well then, there were seven brothers; the first, having married a wife, died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married the widow. And the same with all seven, they died leaving no children. 32 Finally the woman herself died. 33 Now, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be, since she had been married to all seven?’
34 Jesus replied, ‘The children of this world take wives and husbands, 35 but those who are judged worthy of a place in the other world and in the resurrection from the dead do not marry 36 because they can no longer die, for they are the same as the angels, and being children of the resurrection they are children of God. 37 And Moses himself implies that the dead rise again, in the passage about the bush where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is God, not of the dead, but of the living; for to him everyone is alive.’
39 Some scribes then spoke up. They said, ‘Well put, Master.’
40 They did not dare to ask him any more questions.

Jesus could tell a humorous story as well as anyone, but here he gives a sober answer to the daft narrative of “One bride for Seven Brothers.”

“Let’s not muck around,” he says. “Life with God is not like life here. We’re not talking fairy stories where all human custom is reproduced in heaven-like instant virgins for male terrorists, or even family reunion in the sweet by and by-but the unimaginable life of God’s children.”

Resurrection is not the continuation of earthly life but its transformation. We proclaim it most powerfully when we keep it simple: we shall be with God.

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