Whose Wife Will She Be (Lk 20: 27-38)? (Neither my spouse nor anyone is responsible for my happiness
Rather than attempting to establish the reality of resurrection with various arguments, let us focus on its implications (in the context of the gospel passage) for our life on this earth. Jesus does not fall into the trap set by the Sadducees. While he draws their attention to the truth of resurrection by referring to Moses’ conversation with God in the burning bush, his interest is more on the nature of the resurrected life and his invitation to us to mirror such a life on earth. The nature of the resurrected life contains the key to a life of inner freedom, joy, and happiness for our life on earth.
Regarding the resurrected life, Jesus says, “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… (Lk 20: 34-36).” Fullness of life in God (unconditional happiness) and sharing that life with others (communion of saints) will be our reality in heaven. That is, our happiness springs solely from life in communion with God and we share that happiness with others. It is not the other way around; that others become the source of my happiness. In the resurrected life, my happiness, love, and relationships are not defined and by different social roles. It is non-dependent and non-caused happiness. It is permanent.
Jesus’ incarnation is not just about revelation of our life to come but also to show us that it is possible to mirror such a life on earth. Our vocation is not a condemnation to a life of misery, sorrow, and unhappiness and that happiness is possible only in life to come. Jesus, by his life showed that it is possible to live a life of happiness, love others genuinely, and enjoy and relish the beauty of human relationships. I believe in a God who will not only bless my life to come but also a God who teaches me the path of happiness and peace in this life itself, which of course will reach its fullness in the life to come. Didn’t Jesus say, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven?". Isn’t it God’s will that we be happy? I believe and accept that just as my happiness in heaven will not depend on a network of social relationships, so too, on this earth my happiness does not depend on various social relationships, including the most intimate relationship of a husband and wife. It is in being connected to the unchanging and ever living presence of God that is always present in me, is the ground of my lasting and permanent happiness and peace.
Spousal relationship is necessary for conjugal and physical expression of love and intimacy and essential for procreation. Every close relationship (spousal, parental, siblings, friends) brings gratification, fulfillment, and they aid in my psycho-emotional growth. These experiences are moments of genuine happiness in which one feels accepted, loved unconditionally, and gives a sense of belonging and security. But let me not forget that these moments are like opening different windows to have a glimpse of the house inside. One window shuts and another opens. These happy moments (different windows) are real and point to the underlying ground of happiness (inside the house) because of which these singular moments are made possible. I should be equally aware that these different moments of happiness are not permanent. The source of my happiness keeps changing as the objects of my happiness changes.
My spouse/children/parents/siblings/friends/projects/objects… can never be sources of my uncaused and permanent happiness and peace. Accepting and living this truth will free me from unwanted and unnecessary emotional and psychological sufferings. However difficult it is to accept, the truth is, that ‘no one’ and ‘no-thing’ can be a source of my happiness but it is my communion (being present) with the Divine in me that will give me lasting happiness and it is this happiness that I choose to share with others (both personal and universal).
It is not spiritual arrogance or pride to live by the truth that we really don’t need things and others to be happy in life. In a way we will free them from unnecessary burden and guilt that they ought to be the cause of my happiness (or misery) and it is their duty to make us happy. A relationship that is based on freedom is indeed a gift to be cherished. Love that arises out of this inner freedom is free from envy, jealousy, and possessiveness because the ground from which love arises is pure and holy.
It is dying in and to God where it is “no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me,” it is in saying ‘yes’ to every life experience where there is no resistance to what life brings us is true and permanent happiness. In this, happiness is not a consequence of doing something but our very being is happiness. All that we need is practice what the bible says, “Be still and know that I am God (Ps 46:11)” So simple and yet we go in search of happiness. The Buddhists have a beautiful phrase: being nobody, going nowhere. How true! Being nobody (kenosis) going nowhere (not going after/in search of). To people seeking a spiritual sadhana, Ramana Maharishi used to say, “Summa Iru (just be quiet).” Awake! All that is needed is to be still with and in God and this will definitely bring us the unfathomable, uncaused, non-dependent happiness that we are all desperately seeking. For it comes from being with God and isn’t this what we will experience in all its fullness in heaven as well? Such happiness is also possible here and now. It is this happiness that will enable us to form beautiful, personal, and meaningful relationships with others.
Hence, I don’t have to die to experience the uncaused and permanent happiness. It is possible in this life itself. Jesus, by his relationship to his Abba Father, has shown us that it is possible to experience the happiness of heaven on earth and also to experience and enjoy beautiful relationships with others.
Let us seek a spiritual path and walk on it to find the happiness of heaven on earth. It might sound difficult but not impossible for the one who has ardent desire and puts in effort to live in God.
If we are disciples of Jesus then why not follow him in being still before and in God? Happiness will follow.