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Pope Francis tackled a number of big theological issues in a sermon on Sunday at the Vatican, including the denial of the resurrection, and the question of whether people will be married in heaven.
Speaking about the Sadducees, a Jewish sect from the time of Jesus, Pope Francis noted that they attempted to ridicule the belief in resurrection when they asked Jesus who will a woman be married to in heaven if she has had seven husbands on earth who died one after the other.
"Jesus explains that life after death has different parameters from our life on earth: eternal life is a different life, in a different dimension where, among other things, matrimony will no longer exist," the Roman Catholic Church leader said, according to Vatican Radio. "The risen, Jesus says, will be like angels, and they will live in a different state of being, which we cannot achieve or even imagine right now."
Francis said that Jesus offered proof of the resurrection in the story of Moses and the burning bush, found in the book of Exodus, where God reveals himself as the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob. Jesus also affirms in Luke 20:38 : "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living: for all live to Him," the pope reminded the audience.
The Vatican leader continued: "And the most important tie is with Jesus: He is the Alliance, He is the Life and the Resurrection, because with His crucified love He defeated death. God gives us eternal life: He gives it to everyone, and everyone, thanks to Him, can hope to live a life even more real than this one. The life that God has in store for us is not simply a better version of this one: it goes beyond our imagination, because God continually surprises us with His love and mercy."
Pope Francis affirmed that the Sadducees were wrong, and that earthly life cannot be the standard for eternity – as eterninty is what "illuminates our life on earth, and gives each of us hope."
He concluded that "death is behind us, not in front of us. In front of us is the God of the living, the definitive defeat of sin and death, the start of a new time of joy and endless light."
The sermon came on the same weekend that the catastrophic Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, causing extreme damage and killing thousands. On Monday, Francis said he was deeply saddened by the destruction and loss of life that have occurred, and expressed his "heartfelt solidarity" for all those affected.
"He is especially mindful of those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and of those who have lost their homes. In praying for all the people of the Philippines, the Holy Father likewise offers encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they assist the victims of this storm. He invokes divine blessings of strength and consolation for the Nation," Francis said, and sent an initial donation of $150,000 which will be distributed by the local church in the regions most affected by the disaster.