Sunday's Gospel Lesson Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her." Jesus said to them, "Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive." -Luke 20:27-38
About This Week's Prompts for Personal Meditation
As I grow older the doctrine of the Communion of Saints opens to my continually challenged perceptions. Sacramental liturgy plays with boundaries of time, and worshipers believe and then come to realize, that "all of them are alive" as Jesus says. To me, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob live - as well as Hagar, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel - at least in my imagination, if not within the landscape of prayer.
So, naturally, I want to know about relationships in that next sphere of reality. Do Michel, Ahinoam, Abigail, Maacah, Haggith, Abital, Eglah, and Bathsheba have to be linked to King David? Anne Boleyn to Henry? Any of us to our spouses from disastrous first marriages? What a relief that Jesus laughs this off. "Indeed they cannot die anymore" rendered in our translation, sounds like a joke.
Mystical union, however, "ones" the individual in love to God and neighbor. What might that look like in heaven? Marriage to everyone? (Meditation One). Surely, the romantic ideals foundational to the concept of marriage must be incomplete (Meditation Two). In any case, practicing toward the universal heart necessary in the next life make the world better in this one (Meditation Three).
Abiding in love, Suzanne
Meditation One (Introit) Able To Embrace Everyone
Janis Joplin was once asked what it was like being a rock star. She replied: "It's pretty hard sometimes. You go on stage, make love to fifteen thousand people. Then you go home and sleep alone." Jesus was once asked, as a test: If a woman marries seven times and all her husbands die before she dies, whose wife will she be after the resurrection? He answered that, after the resurrection, we will no longer marry or be given in marriage. These two answers, Janis Joplin's and Jesus', are not unconnected. Each, in its own way, says something about the all-embracing intent of our sexuality. What Janis Joplin is saying is that, in our sexuality and our creativity, we are ultimately trying to make love to everyone. What Jesus is saying is not that we will be celibate in heaven, but rather that, in heaven, all will be married to all. In heaven, unlike life here on earth where that is not possible, our sexuality will finally be able to embrace everyone. In heaven, everyone will make love to everyone else and, already now, we hunger for that within every cell of our being. Sexually our hungers are very wide. We are built to ultimately embrace the universe and everything in it. -Ronald Rolheiser OMI The Holy Longing
Do not marvel because I told you you must be born from above. -Jesus to Nicodemus John 3:13
Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. -Angel to women at the tomb Luke 24:5
O that my words were written down! O that they were inscribed in a book! O that with an iron pen and with lead they were engraved on a rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. Job 19:23-27a
O Who will show me those delights on high? Echo. I. Thou Echo, thou art mortall, all men know. Echo. No. Wert thou not born among the trees and leaves? Echo. Leaves. And are there any leaves, that still abide? Echo. Bide. What leaves are they? impart the matter wholly. Echo. Holy. Are holy leaves the Echo then of blisse? Echo. Yes. Then tell me, what is that supreme delight? Echo. Light. Light to the minde: what shall the will enjoy? Echo. Joy. But are there cares and business with the pleasure? Echo. Leisure. Light, joy, and leisure; but shall the persever? Echo. Ever.
George Herbert 1593-1633 Heaven
Paradise: The Ascent of the Blessed, Hieronymus Bosch, 1500-04
Angels Bring Souls to Heaven, Follower of the Master of the Gold Scroll Group, c.1440
Meditation Two (Insight) Loving With Perfect Knowledge
The great Thomistic insight is that angels have perfect knowledge of their own spirituality and so of their own freedom. We stumble about, knowing nothing but facts, while angels are great Platonists, as it were, and know the Ideas directly, yet also know all the facts. Our capacity to love is frequently founded upon romance, which is necessarily the realm of imperfect knowledge; angels, like God, love with perfect knowledge.
Saint Thomas hardly intended this as an irony, but it cuts against us now by exposing all eros as being ironical. -Harold Bloom Omens of Millennium
Meditation Three (Integration) Stretching The Heart Now
Heaven, the scriptures assure us, will be enjoyed within the communal embrace of billions of persons of every temperament, race, background, and ideology imaginable. A universal heart will be required to live there. Thus, in this life, it is good to get some practice at this, good to be constantly in situations that painfully stretch the heart. -Ronald Rolheiser OMI The Holy Longing
The Last Word
If a star were confin'd into a tomb Her captive flames must needs burn there; But when the hand that lockt her up gives room, She'll shine through all the sphere. -Henry Vaughan 1622-1695 They are all gone into the world of light (excerpt) And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. -Daniel 12:3
Throne of Heaven, from a Gradual, Gherarducci, c.1370
As long as we're speculating about life after death, just for fun...
If there is such a thing as a survival or transfer of consciousness after death, I'd like to meet and thank the saints and angels, the watchers and holy ones, the guardians and guides that helped me during my life. I'd like to ask questions. Lots of questions. Lots and lots of questions.
Once I express my gratitude, though, I don't mind forgetting my life on earth. Especially all the stupid stuff I've done. Once my higher consciousness moves through that threshold (if that's what happens) I want to gorge on curiosity - go everywhere, see everything, find out all I can. Interview other former human beings and non-human Beings. Explore the universe - inner and outer planes of Reality, enter and learn to negotiate multiple dimensions.
Mostly, I long for freedom from the limits of my senses, the furrows not of my brow but of my brain, those patterns of thought that hinder creativity, the ancient grooves inherited through evolution confining possibilities sensed but not seen. The "I" itself diminishes, and disappears.
I want to die into Pure Love. I want to burst into a new kind of being, like Jesus from the tomb and beyond the clouds of Ascension, out of sight and beyond anything familiar. I want to transform into energy and light.
If a star were confin'd into a tomb Her captive flames must needs burn there; But when the hand that lockt her up gives room, She'll shine through all the sphere.*
I want to be that star.
*Third to last verse of Henry Vaughan's poem They Are All Gone into the World of Light. -Henry Vaughan 1622-1695