The Sadducees were part of Jewish society’s upper class. Some may have had Levitical or Priestly roles but most of them were connected to the Temple in many different ways. They were opposed to the Pharisees, especially with regards to the resurrection. Pharisees believed in a resurrection but for all persons at the same time. (This is why Saul, a Pharisee, was so upset with the Christians and persecuted them. He could not allow the belief that one man, Jesus, had risen from the dead.) The Sadducees, however, did not believe in a resurrection. If they were still around today they would be wearing the shirts that proclaimed, “The one who dies with the most toys, wins.” They were a wealthy group and believed that this life mattered for itself and there was no living for anything beyond this life. Because of the way they lived and operated in society, they were often held suspect by lower class citizens.
In today’s Gospel, they pose their scenario not for the sake of an answer or understanding but to confuse the issue of the resurrection, Kingdom and eternal life, which Jesus preached. Jesus responds in a way that shows the foibles of their thinking. He takes them back to Moses’ experience at the burning bush, pointing out how Yahweh refers to Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, men who are already dead but of whom God speaks as if they are still living.
For us, it should be easy to recognize the work of the devil and how he always tries to confuse the truth. Our response is one of Faith in Jesus and His promise. As Paul says in today’s second reading: May our Lord…, who has loved us given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through His grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.
The encouragement we receive in every act of Faith is one of assurance of the resurrection, when God’s Glory will appear and our joy will be full.