Friends, today’s Gospel focuses on the enduring existence of those who have gone before us into death. To say that we are nothing but “bodies” which flourish briefly and then fade away is to miss this dimension of our existence. Though we are tempted to see death as the end, something in us rebels against this idea.
This is why Jesus speaks so readily of eternal life. As you know, there was a great debate in Jesus’ time within Judaism in regard to question of resurrection. Many, including the Sadducees, denied the idea of life after death; but others, including the Pharisees, affirmed it. Jesus clearly sides with those who affirm it, and his own resurrection from the dead affirmed this belief as emphatically as possible.
The Gospel has an enormously important practical consequence: we are related still to those who have gone before us. They are, in a very real sense, gone. But they have not disappeared. They are connected to God and therefore to everything that God loves. They are not so much somewhere else as somehow else and thus they can relate to us in perhaps very intimate ways.