Today we honour the memory of Saint Cecilia who suffered martyrdom for assisting at the burial of two brothers who were also martyred for the Faith. She was arrested and ordered to sacrifice to pagan gods. When she refused she was suffocated, stabbed in the neck and then beheaded. Saint Cecilia is one of the seven female saints mentioned in the Roman Canon and since the 16th century has been venerated as the heavenly patron of church musicians. Cecilia was martyred in Rome in the year 117.
The Sadducees, just like the Pharisees, were a group set apart from ordinary people, they lived in their own little world and they came from well-educated, wealthy and influential families. Unlike the Pharisees, they accepted only the first five books of the Old Testament and had little regard for the Prophets. While they took the word of God seriously, they had some weird ideas especially with regard to spiritual realities; e.g. they didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead, in angels, or in evil spirits, while the Pharisees did.
It’s no wonder the Sadducees were arrogant and spiteful towards Jesus. He came from a poor family and he spoke freely about the resurrection of the dead. In order to make his teaching look ridiculous, they posed a riddle that they thought would silence Our Lord once and for all. But Our Lord was quick to show that God doesn’t abandon his people to oblivion when they die—and he did it with the Sadducees’ own weapon, using passages of scripture that they would accept as valid. In this way Our Lord corrected their misreading of Scripture.
How can we avoid the trap of misreading Scripture? First of all by remaining open and docile to the Holy Spirit as he speaks through the Church and its official teaching. Scripture’s power resides not in itself, but in the Holy Spirit, who is the breath of Scripture and the breath of life to all believers. As the Fathers of Vatican II wrote: Man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior help of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth (On Divine Revelation, 1).
God wants us to surrender ourselves to his word, to receive it, as St. Paul says: not as the word of men but as what is really is, the word of God (1 Thess 2:13). Every day Our Lord invites us to meditate on his word and allow him to speak the word of life to us. As we spend time quietly with him let us ask the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds, that we may be filled and satisfied with the wisdom of God.