Our Bodies Are Sacred
(An Easter Week Meditation)
This Easter week I have attended two funeral Masses and presided at a wake service. These were for parishioners who have died. This Saturday, I will attend another funeral Mass for a religious sister.
At the two funeral Masses, family members who spoke words of remembrance mentioned that their deceased loved ones are now in a better place and have gone home to God. The same happened at the wake service when a family member said that her brother is now in heaven. Another family member announced that her sister is now risen in Easter joy.
These deaths during Easter are perfect opportunities to think about the resurrection of our bodies. For Easter, which is the commemoration of our Lord Jesus' resurrection from the dead, reminds us that just as we died in Christ in the waters of our Baptism, so we will also rise with Him in our own resurrection.
Last Easter Monday we attended the noon Mass in a nearby parish. The priest in his homily pointed out the traditional teaching of the Church that man is a composite of body and soul. When a man dies, his soul separates from his body and faces Christ in his particular judgement, and his body is laid in a grave. It is only at the end of the world as we know it that man becomes whole again -- his glorified body unites again with his soul -- that is his resurrection. It is the time Christ's promise to come again is fulfilled and all people in their glorified bodies will face Him in the general or final judgement.
Matthew describes this event thus: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. . . . Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'" (Matthew 25:31-34, 41)
Scripture also tells us: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.…" (I Cor 6:19-20)
Again in Scripture: " . . . although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord. Therefore, we aspire to please him, whether we are at home or away. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil." (2 Cor 5:6-10)
In his "Theology of the Body" St. John Paul II gave an integrated vision of the human person. The body is sacred. It should be used only in a sacred way, in a way befitting his dignity, in a way consistent with the purpose for which he was created.
It is good to remember this fact: We have an inherent dignity as creatures of God with a body and soul. We were made by God for a purpose on this earth -- to use our bodies befitting its dignity and destiny.
While our mortal body will be joined to the earth when death occurs, it will rise as a glorified body, joined to his soul, when the Lord comes back.
When that time comes, we want to join Our Father, Who is in heaven, where He is . . . forever.#
" . . . and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen." (from the Nicene Creed)