1 Maccabees 6:1-13
King Antiochus was going through the upper provinces when he heard that Elymais in Persia was a city famed for its wealth in silver and gold. Its temple was very rich, containing golden shields, breastplates, and weapons left there by Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian king who first reigned over the Greeks. So he came and tried to take the city and plunder it, but he could not because his plan had become known to the citizens and they withstood him in battle. So he fled and in great disappointment left there to return to Babylon.
Then someone came to him in Persia and reported that the armies that had gone into the land of Judah had been routed; that Lysias had gone first with a strong force, but had turned and fled before the Jews; that the Jews had grown strong from the arms, supplies, and abundant spoils that they had taken from the armies they had cut down; that they had torn down the abomination that he had erected on the altar in Jerusalem; and that they had surrounded the sanctuary with high walls as before, and also Beth-zur, his town.
When the king heard this news, he was astounded and badly shaken. He took to his bed and became sick from disappointment, because things had not turned out for him as he had planned. He lay there for many days, because deep disappointment continually gripped him, and he realized that he was dying. So he called all his Friends and said to them, “Sleep has departed from my eyes and I am downhearted with worry. I said to myself, ‘To what distress I have come! And into what a great flood I now am plunged! For I was kind and beloved in my power.’ But now I remember the wrong I did in Jerusalem. I seized all its vessels of silver and gold, and I sent to destroy the inhabitants of Judah without good reason. I know that it is because of this that these misfortunes have come upon me; here I am, perishing of bitter disappointment in a strange land.”
Psalm 9:1-3, 5,15,18
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
When my enemies turned back,
they stumbled and perished before you.
You have rebuked the nations, you have destroyed the wicked;
you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
in the net that they hid has their own foot been caught.
For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
nor the hope of the poor perish forever.
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.” Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him another question.
The readings today remind us that the things of this world are passing away.
King Antiochus became sick with disappointment after hearing that the Jews had success fighting off his armies and overturning the abominations he erected on their altars. He realized that what he did in Jerusalem was wrong and that none of the wealth or land he acquired mattered anymore. All he could think of was the destruction he caused in his life. His life was passing away and all he had tried to build up for himself was brought to naught.
In the Gospel, Jesus replied to the Sadducees that marriage belongs to this age. Men married in order to carry on their name, influence the bloodline, and ultimately gain power. Yet those worthy of the resurrection are not given in marriage. These things are not relevant anymore to those who inherit the Kingdom of God.
All the things a person builds up for him or herself in this life will go away. But God protects those who serve him and look not to the things of this world but look to him and his Kingdom. Our only security is in God's mercy and strength. It cannot be found in our spouses, our success at work, or our accumulations of wealth.
Today, consider how you are working toward the Kingdom of God. We can take nothing with us when we die. But God will raise us up to eternal life if we are dedicated to serving Him in this life.