Today we honour the memory of the 22 Martyrs of Uganda who suffered for their faith during a 12 month reign of terror against Catholics. Led by Saint Charles Lwanga a lay catechist who was burned to death on 3 June 1886. Pope Paul VI canonized Saint Charles and his companions in 1964.
The Sadducees were, on the whole wealthy, educated Jews who accepted only the Pentateuch (i.e. the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures) as authoritative, and they rejected the rabbinic oral tradition, which was more open to the possibility of resurrection from the dead.
The Sadducees’ question about the much-married widow was both legalistic and cynical. Using an example taken from the Book of Deuteronomy (25:5-10), they sought to reduce to absurdity any belief in the resurrection, and in so doing humiliate Our Lord.
Meeting the Sadducees on their own terms, Our Lord explained how the resurrection is foreshadowed even in the Pentateuch. Yahweh revealed himself to Moses as the God of his ancestors (Exodus 3:6,15-16), not just the God of those who were alive at Moses’ time. So if he is the God of the living, then Abraham and all those who came before must be alive in some way or other, this suggests the distinct possibility of life after death.
The Sadducees had created an intellectual and spiritual elitism that blinded them to the full spectrum of God’s ways. Perceiving their arrogance and self-confidence, Our Lord wanted to show them that God is too big and his word is too expansive for anyone to believe that he or she can understand it all. Throughout his entire ministry Our Lord proved that God often moves in ways that seem new or unexpected to us because of our limited grasp of how wide and high and deep his love is. The resurrection is our greatest hope and joy, and yet the Sadducees, with their limited view of God and his word, risked missing this wonderful promise. May we never narrow our horizons.