The last two Sundays, we have talked about heaven,
because that is fundamentally what our Faith is about.
To be a Christian is both to be about not only
bringing people to heaven,
but also bringing heaven to this world.
But today, I want to take this a step further.
And I’m going to tell you something about our Catholic Faith
that may surprise you; that may even shock you.
And here it comes:
Our goal, our destination, is actually something beyond heaven.
What am I talking about? I am talking about Resurrection.
When we speak of heaven,
we mean that state of perfect union with God.
After our life on earth, we hope to be united with God.
If necessary, we will be made perfectly ready for heaven in purgatory.
But realize that in heaven, we will not have our bodies;
and yet it is an article of our Faith that one day,
we will get our bodies back. New and improved, I hasten to add.
Notice what we say every Sunday in the Creed:
“I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead.”
Here’s how it all fits together.
If we fully cooperate with God and our souls are in heaven one day,
you and I will still be awaiting that great day of resurrection.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that:
In death, the separation of the soul from the body,
the human body decays and the soul goes to meet God,
while awaiting its reunion with its glorified body.
God, in his almighty power,
will definitively grant incorruptible life
to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls,
through the power of Jesus’ Resurrection.
I’d like to know what our resurrected bodies will be like.*
Wouldn’t you? Here’s what I found.
I found an article by a priest, Monsignor Charles Pope,
And he identified seven qualities our risen bodies will have.
First, we will have the same identity.
That is to say, we will be ourselves, not someone else.
Second is integrity: meaning, our bodies will be whole and complete.
Third, we will be youthful, without defect.
Think of our Savior, Jesus, who was about 33
when he rose from the dead.
So don’t worry about getting back your need for
bifocals, or shoe inserts, or a daily regimen of pills!
A fourth quality is “impassability,”
which means you and I will be immune from pain and death.
That sounds very, very good to me!
Fifth, we will have “subtlety,”
which means our bodies will not face the limits we do now.
So, for example, Jesus was able to pass through doors.
Sixth, we will have “agility” – which means traveling
from here to there just the way the Risen Jesus did.
Finally, we will have something called “clarity,”
which means the perfect beauty of our souls
will shine through our bodies.
Jesus himself said that
“the just shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
This clarity, or brightness, may explain why,
when people met Jesus after the Resurrection,
they didn’t immediately recognize him.
Now, it occurs to me there are two natural questions.
The first is, so what does all this mean to me now?
And the answer is that our choices here, determine our future.
Put simply, if you want to be friends with God in eternity, start now.
The fact of the Resurrection reminds us
that our bodies are part of God’s Plan for us.
This is why we treat a human body as sacred, even in death.
This is why, even if the Church gives permission for cremation,
nevertheless the Church strongly encourages burial instead.
And if someone opts for cremation, those remains must be buried.
The body is sacred, and must be treated as such always.
But another question you might have is,
What will I do in the New Creation, with my new, glorified body?
I have no answer for that. God has told us very little about that.
Instead, God’s Word to us has been focused on
getting us to salvation. Maybe further instructions come later.
But consider this.
If you go out on a very dark night,
you can gaze up at a sky sparkling with millions of stars.
And we know that’s just a tiny fraction of all the worlds out there.
Then again, maybe you are like me.
I like to watch programs about places
in Europe, Asia, Africa, and elsewhere.
Fascinating places, filled with interesting sights, tastes and people.
And just like the vastness of the heavens,
the thought of all that is wonderful about our world overwhelms me:
I will never be able to discover it all, experience it all, take it all in.
But then again, maybe we will?
God delights in his Creation. He works away at it, like an artist,
Fixing what is flawed in his masterpiece.
And above all, he wants to fill his Creation with life.
Life that shares all his joy and wonder.
Maybe the New Creation will be something like that?
* I also want to give a biretta-tip to Father John Zuhlsdorf, whose off-hand comment on his blog got me thinking about this angle.