St. Charles Lwanga, martyr, and his companions, martyrs
(Tobit 3:1-11.16; Mark 12:18-27)
In the gospel passages this week Jesus may remind us of a champion prize fighter or a pool shark. He takes on all who wish to challenge him and easily turns back their best efforts. Yesterday he outwitted the Pharisees who tried to trap him with a touchy question about taxes. Today he defends himself against the Sadducees who poke fun at his idea of the resurrection. Tomorrow he will respond insightfully to a sincere question about the greatest commandment.
Mark the Evangelist portrays Jesus as superior to all other teachers. His description of Jesus’ perfection will reach its height on the cross where Jesus’ bloody death brings about reconciliation between heaven and earth. Mark shows us that Jesus is not only wise and holy but courageous and self-sacrificing.
The argument which Jesus makes in today’s gospel fills out Mark’s portrait. What good would reconciliation of heaven and earth be if there is no resurrection of the dead? Too often in this world the good eat dirt while the unjust enjoy fine dining. In the resurrection of the dead we expect to find reversal. Those who love God and neighbor will have seats at the eternal banquet. Meanwhile, those who give lip-service to God and their backs to the poor may find themselves smelling the aroma outside the banquet hall.