"The children of this age marry and remarry;but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming ageand to the resurrection of the deadneither marry nor are given in marriage.They can no longer die..." (Lk 20:34-36)
This portion of the gospel read at today's liturgies has struck me in recent years as rarely getting the attention it deserves. Now, it is true that it doesn't quite fit in the larger theme of the other Scripture readings of the day. This is all the more reason to just give it a moment's focus.
I am reminded of the story of this town in Croatia which has become famous in the last few years. There have been no divorces in this town at all. Zero. It is attributed to the custom of putting the crucifix front and center in the wedding ceremony.
And I believe this is what Jesus is alluding to when he talks about marriage and the resurrection. The question put to him (by people who didn't believe there was a resurrection) was, if seven brothers married one woman, whose wife would she be at the resurrection? Jesus points out that people who live "in this age" marry, but at the resurrection of the dead, people don't marry, because they can no longer die.
Ok, this translation doesn't include the word "because." To me, there is a logical connection here. Why do we marry? Is it to find happiness? To get love? According to Jesus, we marry in order to die.
According to the Croatian marriage custom, marriage is about embracing the cross of Christ, about surrendering ourselves, about total self-gift, about love. Marriage is about love. Love is about death. Marriage has a purpose that is only for this life, and that is the death and results in self-gift. Once we are in the beatific vision, we no longer live marriage, because we are in the state for which we have invested our life and our love during "this age."
When you love someone with all the human dynamics of passion, you will go to great lengths for that person. Christian marriage means those dynamics are oriented to self-sacrifice and self-giving for conformity to the cross of Jesus and for the highest good of the beloved, which is his/her conformity to the cross of Jesus. For the Christian, there is no other ultimate purpose for marriage.
When you choose a spouse, you choose the one best able to help you give everything. If you've ever been in any scenario where your "everything" is being called out, you realize that without a firm commitment and the foreknowledge that you are going to hate it at least a good chunk of the time, you are going to be in a mess.