The Sadducees’ Question (Luke 20:27-38) - a Sequel

William Loader

‘In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be?’ (20:33)

The story waits to be told. The angel Gabriel sensed what was at stake. The brothers were there, befuddled with their competing claims to the one woman. Who would possess her in the resurrection? Gabriel suspended the metamorphosis, presenting before them instead only a doll like semblance of the woman. They each rushed towards her, claiming their rights. A struggle developed among them. One tore an arm; another a leg, oblivious of the kapok filling which spilled at their feet.

Blind in their possessive greed, they each ripped for themselves their claim. One went off taking an arm carefully secured, placed it in a drawer. Another pinned his portion up by the calendars. Between them they had everything and they had nothing.

The next day the seven brothers appeared at the market. There suddenly before them stood Judith herself. This time it was different. As one stepped forward, hands were stretched out, fingers touched, and in a moment both were transformed into doves, busy, beside each other, together finding scraps under the market tables, flying upward when disturbed. As the second stepped forward, hands stretched out and fingers touched, they were transformed into two dolphins, beside each other in the shining water, leaping up, diving down again, swirling in the deep. Soon there also two sheep, two parrots, two lizards, two dogs, two magpies.

The crowds who had been watching saw everything and saw nothing. People had gathered to celebrate the coming together, but soon all seven brothers were gone and Judith who had once appeared had also vanished. Some muttered about the system and the one who wouldn’t even let a disciple attend his father’s funeral, disrupted families leaving old men to run fishing businesses and to tidy the books of their tax collecting sons.

Then an old woman stepped forward, resting on her old walking stick and peering out over the gathered crowd. She still had voice and addressed them. ‘Abraham,’ she said, ‘Isaac, and you, Jacob, and the rest of you, why do you stand around here so curious? There is no place in this kingdom for possession. I belong neither to first nor to last. I never did; that was your imagining. There is a holiness undefined by boundaries, a faithfulness unmeasured by performance, an intimacy untouched by the strongest bonds of commitment. It is a leaving of family and a finding of family, a leaving of father and mother and a finding of father and mother, a being born to a higher and deeper reality of love which goes far beyond the worlds of duty, claim and rights and more than fulfills them.’

The celebrations began, an ancient dance, a circle. As each round was performed, one would lead and another follow until each had led and each had danced, some with flourish, some hobbling, some with screams of delight, some engrossed in an eternal rhythm of mystery. The brothers were there in the dance, each taking his turn. There was room for everyone.

The festivities went on into the night. Near midnight one frail young man entered the market place, sack on shoulder. The crowd gathered around him. He made a table upright, emptied the dried fish onto it and the loaves, poured the wine and with pierced hands invited them to share.

Yes, they all came, some very hesitant, some confused, even a little angry at not having understood. Even the doves flew down for the crumbs. The parrots and magpies screeched and squawked like it was already morning. The dogs barked. The sheep ate what was left of the kapok on the ground. Lizards scurried beneath upturned tables and down near the beach the dolphins simply continued to rise and fall in the magic of the waters. It was soon morning. The light had come. Jesus packed up his bag and went off for another day.