Here’s a quote I need to remember: “When you’ve done something wrong, admit it and be sorry. No one in history has ever choked to death from swallowing his pride.”
And yet, we humans struggle with being mistaken or admitting we are wrong. But that initial reluctance rarely serves us well. In fact, I am convinced this fear of being seen as wrong or vulnerable or mistaken is one of the strongest enemies that keep us enslaved to patterns of behavior that prevent us from being in healthy relationship with God and with each other.
No wonder one of the most neglected Divine Mysteries of our Faith is confession!
Look at our lesson today in Mark 12:18-27:
At that time, Sadducees came to Jesus, who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the wife, and raise up children for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no children; and the second took her, and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; and the seven left no children. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.” Jesus said to them, “Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.”
The Sadducees were the most educated and sophisticated leaders in the nation of Israel. They were the intellectuals and usually very wealthy and the people considered them “the elite.” They were a group of scholar leaders who only held that the first 5 books of Moses were scripture, even dismissing much of the Psalms and certainly the Prophets. They also held that the Faith was about the “here and now” not some empty daydream about living forever or there ever being a resurrection from the dead as the Pharisees believed along with the majority of the people of Israel.
That’s why they were “sad, you see!” (Sorry, had to get that joke in somewhere!)
This is why they posed this question to Jesus. They were pridefully convinced they had concocted a question to show just how silly and illogical any notion of a physical resurrection truly was, and they had every intention of publicly embarrassing Jesus and proving their own wisdom and insight.
Jesus turns the tables on these “elites” and proves to them that if they deny the power of God to overcome death, they actually prove the absurdity of their own religion. If God is the God of the Living and their own scripture declares, then He is not the God of the dead! Plus, they get marriage all wrong as well! Talk about having the tables turned on you!
This is why the Faith insists you see humility as your greatest virtue. This is why the Faith offers us countless tools to tame our passions and keep our egos in check. This is why the Church confronts us with the absolute necessity of confession. Because if you can’t ever admit you’re wrong, you’ll NEVER be right!
Today, where do you struggle to admit your own wrongness? Why haven’t you made time for confession in your practice of the faith? Are you embarrassed? Don’t be. We all need this Divine Mystery to keep our hearts tender and soft so that we can be merciful to others. Take the time this week to seek out an opportunity to admit when you’re wrong, and cut off the damaging spiritual illness of arrogance and pride while the sickness is small in your heart. That’s the best way to be Orthodox on Purpose.