Daily Reflection

When we got bored during a high school religion class, we would try to tie our teacher up in a theological tangle like whether it counted to baptize a baby with orange juice in a car that broke down in the desert. With luck, we could kill a class period.

This came to mind when I read today’s gospel. In it the Sadducees try to trap Jesus by asking him who a woman is married to after death when she’s had more than one husband. Unlike some of my more hapless teachers, Jesus sidesteps the nonsense.

He in effect, tells them that their question is irrelevant to God. “And he is not God of the dead but of the living for to him all are alive.” Your point is moot because people are alive after death. Bravo Jesus!

The Sadducees aren’t the only ones who have expected God to judge people’s adherence to their rules. I grew up in a Catholic culture that was almost as obsessed with legalistic trivia as they were.

• If you were distracted during the priest’s communion (easy to do when his back was turned to you), had you missed Mass?

• Could you eat beans on Friday if a tiny piece of pork floated in the can even if you removed it?

• Would you spend time in purgatory for talking in church?

• If you were female was it sinful not to wear a hat in church?

This looks silly in retrospect but we took such questions pretty seriously in the 1950’s.

Today’s gospel teaches us that God is concerned about big issues like those in the two great commandments about loving him and our neighbor, not our own peculiar rules.  Probably God cares no more whether a Muslim eats a piece of bacon than he does if I have a hamburger on a Friday in Lent.

When I picture God judging me, I hope he doesn’t nail me for all my garden variety faults. Yes, I gossiped. Yes, I lost my temper etc.

I HOPE God will be concerned with things that Ignatian spirituality asks us to focus on like whether we have tried to be men and women for and with others or tried to change the world for the good.

Today Jesus asks us to consider if we are asking the right questions so that our concerns align more closely with God’s.