Daily Devotion for November 18, 2016
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
A pretty setting of Ave Maria by Pietro Mascagni, sung by the wonderful Sissal.
(Note: Composers frequently repeat, omit, or put phrases out of order.)
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
Prayer for Faith During this Day
Holy God, I am weak, and sometimes the way grows fearsome; for this world is filled with evil, hiding at every corner, ready to steal my precious joy in You, craving to destroy my soul. Help me to keep my faith today, through every trial and doubt I face. Stay close to me; Holy Spirit, abide in me and make your presence known in everything I see and do. Give me strength the whole day through, mighty God, in the name of Christ I pray,
Thanks for Everything
O Lord my God, it seems sometimes like you want to give me gifts more than I want to receive them, because my life is filled with so many wonderful things that I take for granted. I don't remember to ask for them and hardly remember to thank you for all of them. Most of the parts of my wonderful body function as they should, or at least pretty well; and it is only when something goes awry that I realize it is there!
Who could possibly remember to thank you for everything? The way my eyes move and focus, all the parts of my heart that keep lifeblood circulating, every minute of every day, without me even thinking about it. All those weird little parts of my brain. The chlorophyll in plant leaves that make my life possible. Nobody could come close to thanking you for all the wonders of life.
So I pray that you will accept my thanks for all the little things that make my life possible, and pleasant. The necessary things, and the beautiful things, and the things that smell good, and the things that make me laugh; everything that I will never remember to thank you for specifically, great Lord, I thank you for now.
Thirty Days of Thanksgiving
#17 What knowledge am I thankful for?
Now to him who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine — to him be glory in the Church through Jesus Christ for ever and ever,
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.
~ C. S. Lewis
Matthew 22:23-33 (J.B. Phillips NT)
Jesus exposes the ignorance of the Sadducees
On the same day some Sadducees (who deny that there is any resurrection) approached Jesus with this question: “Master, Moses said if a man should die without any children, his brother should marry his widow and raise up a family for him. Now, we have a case of seven brothers. The first one married and died, and since he had no family he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened with the second and the third, right up to the seventh. Last of all the woman herself died. Now in this ‘resurrection’, whose wife will she be of these seven men—for she belonged to all of them?”
“You are very wide of the mark,” replied Jesus to them, “for you are ignorant of both the scriptures and the power of God. For in the resurrection there is no such thing as marrying or being given in marriage — men live like the angels in Heaven.
And as for the matter of the resurrection of the dead, haven’t you ever read what was once said to you by God himself, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’? God is not God of the dead but of living men!” When the crowds heard this they were astounded at his teaching.
Notes on the Scripture
This passage, unfortunately, makes little sense without understanding some background material.
he Pharisees believed in resurrection of the body. They thought that good Jews would rise again exactly as they died. If you had a wart on your nose when you died, it would be there when you arose. Scribes had long discussions on matters such as whether or not you would be wearing the same clothes. Because they believed that the resurrection would occur in the Holy Land, they developed a theory that there were great tunnels under the earth, and that Jews who died in say, Egypt, would roll through the tunnels until they came to rest under Palestine.
So — the Sadducees' question was not as foolish as it sounded; it exposed a gaping hole in the Pharisees' beliefs. The mistake was assuming Jesus shared the Pharisees' beliefs.
The first part of Jesus' answer clears up the Sadducees' mistaken assumption. Marriage is a union of the flesh. (E.g. Ephesians 5:31) It will not exist after we are resurrected, because God will give us a different form. (Note: We do not fear about not being reunited with a spouse or other family member in heaven. If they are there, we will be able to know them and love them with a pure and powerful love that is only foreshadowed by an earthly marriage.)
As to the second issue, whether resurrection will occur at all, the Sadducees did not recognize any Scripture except the Pentateuch. So the Pharisees had spent centuries trying to convince them of the resurrection through the most inane citations to the Pentateuch one could image. They were legalists and as apt to argue tiny points to the point of infinity, much like Medieval Christian theologians arguing about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.
But Jesus treats these arguments the way Alexander the Great treated the Gordian Knot. He just obliterates it with one swipe of the “sword” of his tongue. First he cites Scripture they recognize and believe, the words God spoke to Moses from the burning bush:
These patriarchsNote: It is entirely possible, under Christian theology, that Abraham has already ascended to heaven. See Romans 4; Luke 16:19-31. were long dead at the time God spoke to Moses. So, Jesus tells them, God would not say that he “is” the God of a dead man. If people simple ceased to exist at death, God would have used different words.
His brilliant argument falls flat to our ears for this reason: The Hebrew — an ancient language even in Jesus' day — cannot be translated into English accurately. We use tenses and prepositions with different nuances and understanding. We simply have to trust that Jesus understood the language and that, if God wanted to indicate that He had been the God of someone who was dead, He would have used a different verb tense and/or preposition.