Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection,
came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying,
“Teacher, Moses wrote for us,
If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child,
his brother must take the wife
and raise up descendants for his brother.
Now there were seven brothers;
the first married a woman but died childless.
Then the second and the third married her,
and likewise all the seven died childless.
Finally the woman also died.
Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?
For all seven had been married to her.”
Jesus said to them,
“The children of this age marry and remarry;
but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age
and to the resurrection of the dead
neither marry nor are given in marriage.
They can no longer die,
for they are like angels;
and they are the children of God
because they are the ones who will rise.
That the dead will rise
even Moses made known in the passage about the bush,
when he called ‘Lord’
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;
and he is not God of the dead, but of the living,
for to him all are alive.”
Some of the scribes said in reply,
“Teacher, you have answered well.”
And they no longer dared to ask him anything.
This is a topic that is often debated and causes great concern: “Is there marriage in heaven?” Jesus says in this passage that we marry and remarry on earth, but in heaven we “are like angels”. In other words, there is no marriage as we know it in heaven. For those who have a beautiful marriage this may seem awful. How can a God of love punish me by not allowing me to remain with my wife (or husband) into eternity?
As we say in our marriage vows, “’Til death do us part.” Death breaks the marriage bond on earth and allows the remaining spouse to marry again. For example, my mother died in 1998 after almost 39 years of marriage to my dad. Two years later my dad remarried. Who will be his spouse in heaven?
We believe that once we get to heaven we will experience the incredible joy of the Beatific Vision, being in the presence of God for all eternity. We cannot even imagine how fulfilling that will be! And there will be no need for procreation at that point.
However, to give spouses hope, Pope Pius XII gave married couples these consoling words, “While marriage itself may not endure in heaven, married love will continue.” What did he mean by this? Part of the joy of heaven will be the intimacy that we share with those we shared love with while here on earth. The people that we loved and the people who loved us have shaped us into the people we are. Our ability to love has been molded by our loved ones on earth. And we would be very different people if it were not for our spouses and loved ones.
The love between spouses and other intimate friends has an eternal impact on our soul. I find this thought comforting. So even though marriage as we know it does not endure, love lasts forever.
And I have to say a word about celibacy here. The world needs celibacy to point people toward heaven. We celibate men and women are a sign to the world that God is our all in all. We point people to a deeper reality. It drives people crazy in our culture to see celibate men and women because our culture teaches that if one is not having sexual relations there must be something wrong with them. But I always say that every human being is seeking intimacy. And intimacy is meeting another person at the deepest level of the heart. Priesthood can be full of intimacy with God and others all day long.
Celibate living is no better than marriage. In fact, they are parallel paths to God. Both require full, faithful, fruitful and free love. “Full” means that they give of themselves totally to one another. “Faithful” requires a lifetime commitment of fidelity to one another. “Fruitful” means that they both give life (physically or spiritually). And “free” means that neither party is being forced in any way.
Each vocation is a call to love sacrificially. And all vocations are meant to help others get to heaven. In fact, the goal of marriage is to help your spouse and children get to heaven. The goal of priesthood is to help my spouse (the Church) and my children (all in the Church) get to heaven.
How has the love of my spouse and friends shaped my life?
Do I yearn for union with God in heaven?
Or do I focus completely on human relationships without developing my relationship with God?
Can I imagine a life where the Lord will fill my every desire?
Have a blessed day!