February 27, 2022
What does ‘Resurrection of the Body’ mean? What can we hope for?
- Death is the separation of the soul from the body, the soul goes to meet the Lord. The soul awaits the moment when it will be reunited with the resurrected body through the power of Jesus’ resurrection.
- When we rise, it’s with our own bodies. Our Lord will change our lowly body to be like His glorious body.
- The resurrected bodies are immortal, also true for the wicked who will be condemned to everlasting torment, torment for the wicked, joy for the just.
- Thomas identified four marks, or gifts, of the glorified body: subtlety, impassibility, agility and brightness.
- The four gifts of the glorified body gives us divine hope for our loved ones who have gone before us, and hope for ourselves for the destiny of eternal destiny.
- Our body is a gift that the Lord has given us to respect and care for in His service.
There are four qualities of resurrected bodies: subtlety- that complete subjection of the body to the soul; impassibility – that means immunity to suffering; agility – freedom from weakness; and brightness – the outward radiant in proportion to the degree of holiness.
At Mass, sharing in the Eucharist is preparing not just our souls, but also our bodies to rise with Him. It’s also for our bodies, that Jesus says, “Behold, I make all things new.”
Blind, leading the blind. I’ve sometimes thought that if I started someday a school of my own, a school of spiritual direction, I would call it “the blind leading the blind.” “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the same that is written. Death is swallowed up in victory.” This passage from St. Paul, is the end of this whole long development where he’s been speaking to those who are doubting the resurrection of the body. Because that’s not an easy thing to believe in. Already the Corinthians are, some of them are doubting. And so, he is basing his response on the reality of the resurrection of Jesus. And if we share His death, if we share His death, we shall also share in His resurrection. So, today is an opportunity for us to reflect on the resurrection of the body. Because often there’s a lot of problems with our bodies, you know, our bodies, maybe they don’t look the way we’d like them to look. And our bodies need care, you know, they need to eat every day, we need to get sleep and so forth. And our bodies are subjected to cause a suffering, like on a chilly day, like we’ve been having these cold days we’ve been having recently, or you know, Texas summer how pressing the heat can be for our bodies, and our bodies can get sick. Our bodies, as we get older, the more and more problems until they finally give up. And so, it’s not easy to understand, to understand the resurrection of the body. So, let’s take a little bit of time today to meditate on this radiant hope, for the resurrection of our bodies. I’m going to be basing this on passages from the catechism, the Roman catechism and St. Thomas. So, what is rising? What do we mean by rising? In death, death is the separation of the soul from the body. The soul is immortal, but not the body. The body decays at death, while the soul goes to meet the Lord. And the soul is then awaiting the moment in which it will be reunited with the resurrected body, through the power of Jesus’ resurrection. So, the Fathers say that it’s fitting that the body and soul share in the rewards or the punishment that the soul will receive. So who will rise? Whose bodies will rise? All the dead will rise. As scripture says, “Those who have done good will rise to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.” So all will rise some to judgment, and some to the resurrection of life, to reward. And when will this take place? Scripture says at the last day, at the end of the world, when Christ returns. And how will this take place? Jesus does not return to His earthly life. And so, this resurrection of the body is not the same thing. For instance, as someone who has a near death experience, or even someone like Lazarus. There have been a few examples in scripture of someone brought back from the dead, but they’re brought back to this life. So that’s not the same as the resurrected body. It’s not coming back to this life, but it is the same body. When Jesus is raised, He’s raised with His own body. And He says, “see my hands and my feet, and know that it is I myself.” And so when we rise, it’s with our own bodies. But as St. Paul says, “but the Lord will change our lowly body to be like His glorious body.” So it’s truly our body, but it is changed and glorified. The Catechism mentioned some examples in nature. And one of the ones that’s mentioned is seeds. This is the one that St. Paul has been reflecting on in this passage, we just had at the very end of the passage, but just a few verses earlier, he’s using the example of a seed. And think of a seed, which when you sow it, it’s little, and hard and dark, and it seems dead. And you just put in the ground, and it seems just to die. like that, that the bodies we just last, just last week, we had the burial of my mom over here, in the cemetery, like a little seed. And then it’s mysterious, then later, this new thing begins to come up. It’s coming up, it was something was put down. But now something is coming up. And it’s sort of living, it doesn’t seem dead, it’s living. And it’s not little, it’s not dark and hard, but it’s green, and tender. And it’s amazing, all that begins to grow out of what was just a tiny little seed. And so the difference, of course, between the seed and the resurrection of the body is this is not something that happens naturally, it happens by God’s power. But St. Paul sees all these signs in nature, God is like teaching us about the resurrection. And the bodies that rise when our bodies rise, since this is the work of God, they will all be perfect. Coming from the hand of God, there’ll be no corporal deformity. Nobody will be too heavy or too thin, not affected by disease, or by age, or even the Catechism says, “hair will have the amount of hair which is which is good for us to have.” And speaking of martyrs, or others who have lost members of their body, those who have lost them for Christ, these bodies will be complete. And those members that were part of their martyrdom, will be even more glorious, like the wounds of Christ after His resurrection, were especially glorious. So the ways in which our bodies suffered for the Lord will then be consigned a special glory. So all the resurrected bodies will be immortal. The Catechism says, “this is earned by the glorious victory of Christ over death. For it is written, ‘He shall cast death down headlong forever. Oh, death, I will be thy death.’” And St. Paul says, “and the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” And St. John says in apocalypse and revelations, “death shall be no more.” So the resurrected bodies are immortal, will not die. But for this is also true for the wicked. It says that the wicked will be condemned to everlasting torment. To sight scripture where it says, “They shall seek death, and they shall not find, it, they shall desire to die, and that shall flee from them.” And so this will be a torment for the wicked, but a joy for the just. And then St. Paul, based on this passage of St. Paul, the earlier just said a few verses earlier, St. Thomas in the Fathers of the Church, identified four marks or four gifts of the glorified body. And St. Paul is again comparing it to a seed. So here’s those four. The first one is he says, “It is sown a physical body. It is raised a spiritual body, sown and raised like a seed that is sown and then raised.” And so what do we mean by spiritual body? So right now, our body is often an obstacle for what? For the good things we want to do. As Jesus says, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” You’re trying to concentrate at Mass but you’re tired and the priest goes on and on, or it’s cold. And so the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. And St. Paul says “I don’t do the good that I want to do, but the evil that I don’t want to do.” So there’s often a battle. Our body is often like a stubborn donkey, that we want to do some good that our body is resisting. So what this means when it says spiritual body, is that means it will still be a body, it won’t be a spirit, it will be truly a body, but it’ll be a body living by the Holy Spirit. So the Catechism says “the body will be subjected to the absolute dominion of the soul, to an entire obedience to her control.” And so the body will be in complete harmony with the soul, not resisting the soul, but in harmony, docile. And they see a sign of this in the Scriptures where Jesus’ resurrected body passes through a wall, to come be with His disciples, that it’s not limited. So that’s the first point. The second is, St. Paul says, “what is sown is perishable. what is raised is imperishable.” So this is what they call impassibility, meaning that it is now incapable of suffering or pain. Scripture, in Revelations says, “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore.” So the resurrected body, it’s a body, it can eat, but it doesn’t need to eat. And this is a gift only for the glorified bodies, because the bodies of the damned can suffer and will suffer. The third point is, St. Paul says, “it is sown in weakness. It is raised in power.” And St. Thomas calls this agility. That is our bodies right now, right now are weak and slow, stiff, and not easily moved by the soul. And even maybe when you start climbing a little hill, this chapel, sometimes you want to get the chapel, but your body is sometimes out of breath by the time you get up here. Whereas after the resurrected bodies will be strong, agile, fast, and responsive to our soul. Isaiah says, “those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. And they shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” So we focus a lot today, a lot on movies about superheroes. But these bodies of the resurrected, the resurrected bodies to be greater than superheroes and their abilities. And the fourth it mentioned, is when St. Paul says, “it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory.” And he calls this the brightness of the resurrected bodies. Because now our bodies are subject to a lot of deformities, and miseries. And again, their appearance is not always what we want it right now, the beauty of the soul is not always seen in the body. That’s not always a correspondence. A person can have a very beautiful body, and not a good soul. They can have very good soul, and not a beautiful body. But then, as scripture says, Jesus says, “The righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father”. The righteous will shine like the sun, in the Kingdom of their Father. And there’s an example of this. Jesus gets into manifestation, this inner Transfiguration, when His own body for a brief time, is transfigured in brightness. And there’s already an example in the Old Testament, when Moses was called to special conversations with the Lord. And when he would come out of the presence of the Lord, his face was so bright, that the people of Israel couldn’t even look at him, they had to put a veil on him. Scripture says “He will reform the body of our lowliness, that it may be fashioned unto the body of His glory.” And so, what will happen is the radiance of the soul will be shining through the body, the supreme happiness of the soul, the soul, which is transformed by its part sharing in divine happiness, and this will shine through the body kinda like light coming through glass. And the very wounds that we have suffered for the Lord will become like jewels. And they know that there will be different degrees of this. All the bodies of the saints will be equally impassible, that is none of them will be able to suffer. But the brightness of the bodies will be particular for each one. And St. Paul says, “ there is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon. and another glory of the stars, for one star differs from another star in glory. So also in the resurrection of the dead.” This is also part of this passage that St. Paul is giving us and with our modern telescopes, we can better see the difference in some of the the stars. And so, maybe the sun represents like the resurrected body of Jesus and the moon, perhaps our Blessed Mother, and then all the other saints like stars, each one with its own particular brightness and color, even the sun, the stars are even different colors. And so, this will be dependent on the holiness. So that is the holier the person is, the more united they are to the Lord, the greater will be their brightness. But each one, just like each body is unique. Each one will be with a unique appearance. And so those four again, are subtlety, that complete subjection of the body to the soul, impassibility that means immunity to suffering, agility, freedom from weakness, and brightness, the outward radiant in proportion to the degree of holiness. And so this gives us divine hope, hope for those of our loved ones, who have gone before us, and hope for ourselves, and for the destiny of eternal destiny. If we are faithful, the destiny of our bodies to enjoy this happiness, a happiness beyond our imagining, and forever. And so that transforms of course, the sense of death, death becomes this liberation, which will the step towards the body, if it’s faithful to Lord, to be able to share fully His resurrection. We see that spirit in the martyrs, willing to sacrifice their bodies with the hope of the resurrection. And this also helps us to understand the reason for chastity, the sacrifices of chastity that puts it in perspective, it’s to prepare the body for an even greater joy. Because sometimes people think that Christianity is anti-body, or anti joy. But think, for instance, like a skillful investor who puts his money into a very good insured investment, he doesn’t do it, because he hates money. He does it because he appreciates money, and is willing to sacrifice some money now for a lot of money in the future. And so also, a Christian makes sacrifices in their body, but knowing that they are preparing an abundant joy, which the body will share, to be overflowing with. And so, this is important to know this goal, because it helps us to understand the dignity of our body, which the resurrection chose. And it sheds light on so many controversies today. For instance, today, the so called transgender, all the transgender issues, and all the distorted ideas of our body. Our body is not an idle, our body is not a machine, that we can take some parts off and put other parts on. Our body is not evil, as some say, some different cults have presented it. But our body is a gift that the Lord has given us to, to respect and to care for in His service. And what does that mean to care for the body? Well, we know that it’s good to be careful about nutrition and exercise and so forth. But those are good, but they’re of limited value for eternity. Well, the most important thing is that the body be at God’s service. St. Paul says, “the body is for the Lord.” And that’s a very short but powerful word. The body is for the Lord shows us the dignity of our bodies, our body is for the Lord. But then he also says something more surprising. After he says our body is for the Lord. He says, “And the Lord is for the body”. The Lord is for the body. The Lord loves our bodies, given us out of love, our body, and has this destiny, which we can’t even imagine. So just as in marriage, as in marriage, and marriage is called to be a loving union, of body and soul, the whole person. So the union of the saints in heaven is a union with God in body and soul, not just soul, but body and soul. And a number of mystics have had like a foretaste of this experience of how God’s union also is experienced in a body with a joy and an ecstasy, that no human experience can match. And not in so many pleasures and joys of the body here on Earth, well all of them are passing, whereas this will be forever. “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man even conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” And our Blessed Mother has already experienced, raised into heaven in body, so has already experienced as a sign for us, this resurrected body. As St. Paul said, “Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your stain?” And as we celebrate this Mass, Jesus said, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” That is, already eternal life begins here on earth. And He says, “and I will raise him up on the last day.” So this very Mass that we’re celebrating, sharing in the Eucharist is preparing not just our souls, but also our bodies to rise with Him. And so it’s also for our bodies, that Jesus says, “Behold, I make all things new.” Amen.