Need: Luke 20:27-38
#Need is the Podcast for November 6, 2016. Need is a matter of perspective. When the Sadducees try to trip up Jesus, we can get a new perspective on Children, the Chicago Cubs, Marriage, Love, and Need. Listen to this podcast to find out.: Download it into your phone. #MSAWordfortheDay # MySpiritualAdvisor #Sadducees #Cubs #WorldSeries2016 #LetsGo #Children #Luke20 #Resurrection #ViewPoint #ContingentSpecies
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For Listener Supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 11/6/2016 The 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 20:27-38.
When our kids were little, they would press their case in asking for something by saying, “But I NEED it, Daddy!” “I NEED it, Mommy!” Unfortunately for them, we as adults had experienced enough life that we knew that they did not “NEED” it. It always made me chuckle at how quickly children came to know that they could appeal to the fact that humans are a “contingent species.”
What I mean by a “contingent species” is that we are always dependent upon something for our well-being. Even the fact that we need water, Sun, and certain living conditions to stay alive means that we are contingent, or “dependent for our existence” on other things. Being contingent means that we are never without some kind of need. That is what the kids are playing on to get what they want.
I just sat for ten minutes while praying and thinking about thisand I could think of all kinds of things that are clouded by our contingency. Depending upon our need, our willingness to eat changes drastically. Generic sandwich cookies (fake Oreos(t)), do not sound nearly as appealing as the real thing, unless generic sandwich cookies are all that your family can afford. Then, they sound great.
Just one more example for us would be that one does not need a BMW, or a Bentley, when all you really need is some form of transportation. We can see in Africa and other what we call “underdeveloped” countries that a motor scooter will do fine when all we really NEED is transportation. OK, I have belabored the point.
Now, take that view point of having our contingency skew our view on things and expand it beyond Earth, to the heavens. Let’s just stop and consider the nature of God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is without need. Indeed, the fact that the Lord is Three-in-One means that in His essence, the Lord is not even in need of community. The Person of God does not die. He does not experience pain. He does not need food. He does not need shelter. He does not sin. He is love. He does not need. He does not even need to procreate.
Now consider all this faith business we talk about all the time. When we have faith and are baptized, or are baptized and have faith, either one, we are grafted into Jesus Christ who is God. He is also fully human, but for our understanding today, we need to remember that we are grafted into God through our baptism and faith in Christ. It is important because when we enter into baptism, we enter the realm of being without need. Especially in our death, we will be without need. We are people without need because we depend upon the Lord for everything. If we don’t have it, then we don’t need it until the Lord gives it. No achievement here on earth is necessary to get us to heaven. Being without need is especially true in heaven because our lives will fully and completely be in God.
This unspoken principle under Jesus telling the Sadducees about the Resurrection of the Dead is one that states that there will be no need. The Sadducees enter the lectionary this week as the latest antagonists to Jesus. They are priests. They are wealthy. They use religion to keep order with them, coincidentally, at the top. To have an idea of who they are and what they do we can appeal to the American Holiday of Thanksgiving in November.
Usually, families come together for the Feast of Thanksgiving and there is one person who makes you feel uncomfortable. They are the person who is educated, needs to let you know they are educated, and they are sure of their position on every issue. They often ask you questions, not to earnestly understand your position, but to box you into a corner to show you that your opinions are incorrect. That is what the Sadducees are doing to Jesus.
Because the Sadducees don’t believe in the Resurrection of the Dead, they ask a question that seems ridiculous, but possible on the fringe. There was a law in Deuteronomy 25 that said that if a man died without children, his brother or next of kin was to marry his wife to provide children to continue his name and keep a connection to the living. They did not believe in life after death because it was not explicitly mentioned in the first five books of the Bible.
If you think about the Sadducees existence, they are completely wrapped up in being contingent. If you do not believe that there is more to this life, it can become pretty bleak and pretty cutthroat. Even their theology of blessing says that being blessed is to be without need in this life. Unfortunately, it has no acknowledgment of the lives of those who make their life without need possible.
Jesus turns their trap on its head by showing us that those who are in God will be without need. The Resurrection of the Dead is all about renewing us to a point of perfect completion. A New Heaven and a New Earth will exist. They will exist without need. They won’t need the Sun, because God will be the source of light and heat. In fact, as Jesus states, we will not need to procreate in heaven, therefore we will not need sex. Because we will not need sex, we will not need a spouse. We will all be complete on our own.
It is not uncommon for people to reject that notion because they have enjoyed needing their spouse. The idea of being transformed into a life of something so much better that we will love our spouse even better WITHOUT being married seems strange in Christian circles. (Although in secular circles it would be an easier sell because people want to pretend we are without need at the moment). Yet, look at the Garden of Eden. As the story goes, Eve is created when Adam has a need for a companion. In the Resurrection there will not be any needs. We will be complete. As I said, and it is indeed ironic, we will love our spouses more and better because we will love everyone more and better in the Resurrection of the Dead.
This answer is going to be unacceptable to the Sadducees. It is going to be unacceptable because they cannot see beyond a life that has needs.
If you have a life that is without need, it changes your thinking completely. It ought to change your thinking completely. If you are without need, then being generous is not a hard thing. If you are without need, then forgiving someone is a snap. If you are without need, then taking risks is nothing. You can be loving. You can do things you never imagined without fear.
This past week, after forty seven years of waiting, I got to see my Chicago Cubs win the World Series. The franchise had been waiting 108 years for a championship. This win fulfilled the dreams of many, especially a man who was my baseball coach who died last year predicting the win but never seeing it himself. People drove to cemeteries to put Cub caps and “W” flags (something known to Cub fans) on gravestones of those who never saw a Cubs championship in their lifetime. I cried. Facebook was overwhelming with joy. My wife and I danced in the living room after the last out. I could go on and on.
What I am getting at here is that although it is a sweet sentiment to put those momentoes on graves of loved ones, it is done from the vantage point of starting from Earth and looking toward Heaven. What Jesus is telling us is that it is the other way around for us. For us, we believe in Heaven and the Resurrection of the Dead first. We also believe that by virtue of our baptisms, prayer lives, and worship that we participate in the foretaste of heaven here and now. It is from that vantage point, we assess our needs. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2015.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian