Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 17:5-8; Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6; 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20; Luke 6:17, 20-26
My homily at the 8:30 and 11:00 Masses at Our Lady of Fatima
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Today St. Paul speaks to us in the second reading of the historical reality of Christ’s resurrection. His resurrection from the dead is what sets Christianity apart from every other religion. In fact, Christ’s passion and resurrection are the THE CENTRAL TRUTHS of our faith. St. Paul is SHOCKED when he learns that some Christians were denying that the Resurrection ever happened.
The reality of Christ’s resurrection is so important that Paul makes it clear that if he didn’t rise from the dead, our faith is in vain and we are the most pitiable people of all. If death has the last word, there is no reason for us to hope in life after death. No reason to hope that we will have an eternal home in Heaven. Jesus is not just a nice guy, a good teacher, or a wise prophet. No! He is our risen Lord and Savior who has paid the price for our sins and conquered death once and for all time.
While we have no biblical account of the actual resurrection event itself, we know there were hundreds of people who encountered Christ in his resurrected body. While we don’t know every single time he appeared to others during the 40 days between his resurrection and his ascension, we do know that the gospels record several of these appearances, including a time when he appeared to over 500 of his brethren at one time. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is clearly a historical fact.
I’m sure we all believe in the resurrection, but how many of us think about what this really means for us? How many of us think about the fact that very soon we will leave this mortal life and live forever in Heaven? What is that going to be like?
The fact is that our mortal minds can never begin to fully appreciate what Heaven is going to be like. But we do know that The Second Coming of Christ is going to be a truly amazing and a LITERALLY AWESOME event and that we will be completely transformed at that time into his likeness.
The Catechism (CCC 1042) tells us that the Second Coming is going to be a completely COSMIC event, at which time the ENTIRE UNIVERSE will be renewed. I quote,
“At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. After the universal judgment, the righteous will reign for ever with Christ, GLORIFIED IN BODY AND SOUL. The universe itself will be renewed:”
Think about that! The entirety of God’s creation will be renewed – everything! Death and decay will be a thing of the past. No more death, no more sickness, no more pain, no more sorrow, no more suffering.
Now the odds are pretty good that every one of us here today will die BEFORE this cosmic event takes place. When we die we will each be judged for the life we’ve lived and we will immediately know our eternal destiny. At this time we will have no further opportunity to amend our ways, so we need to get serious about doing so right now. We just never know when our time of death will come, do we?
Although we will know our eternal destiny at the moment of our death and our souls will live on, we won’t receive our glorified bodies until the Second Coming of Christ. At that time our soul will be reunited with our body, which will be transformed to have the same characteristics of Christ’s resurrected body.
Scripture doesn’t give us any detail about what our glorified body will be like. We can use our imaginations to try to envision it, but we honestly don’t know.
Fortunately, some of the great Saints have given us insight into what Heaven will be like. Many of them have had visions of Heaven and have shared them for our inspiration.
Keeping this in mind, let’s take a brief look at what one of the greatest Christian thinkers and writers, St. Thomas Aquinas, had to say about the nature of the glorified body, the body we will all receive in the resurrection at the end of time. This is SO EXCITING that I just have to share it with you.
According to St. Thomas, our resurrected body will have the following 5 characteristics.1 Now this is really cool!
First, our glorified body will have Identity – Yep, we’ll recognize each other in heaven. We may not look exactly the same, just as Jesus looked differently to those he met following the resurrection. However, we will have a unique identity and others will be able to recognize us for who we are. We will know each other in Heaven!
St. Thomas tells us that the 2nd characteristic of our glorified body is that of: Quality
Our body will be at the height of its powers; full, powerful, beautiful. Many of us here today can relate to how our mortal body is no longer at the height of its powers. Right? My knee brace today is a constant reminder of that! But, our glorified body will perform optimally forever.
3rd characteristic: Impassibility/Unchangeability
Our heavenly body will never change or diminish. There will be NO THREAT OR EXPERIENCE OF SICKNESS OR DEATH. As we age I’m sure we know all too well that we are changing and deteriorating. But our glorified body will never deteriorate…not for all eternity! We will enjoy perfect health forever.
The 4th characteristic of our glorified body is Agility
This is the one I think is really, really cool! Agility is defined by St. Thomas as the utter submission of the body to the soul. He tells us that we be able to travel at the “SPEED OF THOUGHT.” Let me say that again…we will be able to TRAVEL at the speed of THOUGHT!
According to St. Thomas, in the glorified body we’ll be able to go wherever we wish in an instant! Imagine this! We merely think it and we’re there. No, it’s not science fiction…it’s Heaven.
And finally, the 5th characteristic is that of Clarity or Luminosity
Aquinas says that our glorified bodies will be filled with light. Jesus showed three of his disciples this quality at the Transfiguration. His transfigured body was filled with light, just as our glorified bodies will be. We will GLOW, filled with the light of Christ.
Now, I don’t know about you, but imagining how God will transform these mortal bodies of ours makes me want Jesus to return NOW!
Even though I’d love it if Jesus returned today, odds are pretty good that it’s not going to happen. This means we still have time to prepare ourselves, but let’s not presume we have an unlimited amount time. Let’s not fall into the trap of waiting to reform our lives until it’s too late.
Let’s each resolve to intentionally prepare ourselves for eternal life by renewing our commitment to better serve God in the days, months or years we have remaining in this mortal life. Let’s not waste the time we have left chasing the riches, pleasure or worldly status that Jesus warns against in today’s gospel. These things just distract and prevent us from serving God and neighbor.
When we come forward to receive the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist today, let’s thank him that through this Blessed Sacrament – this heavenly food – he is preparing us in our mortal bodies to receive the gift of eternal life he’s promised to those who persevere in faith.
Finally, let us never doubt that Christ is risen and that we too will one day rise with him into the unimaginable joys of eternal life. Let this be the hope that sustains us through all of our trials. Let this be the hope that brings us safely to the splendor of everlasting life as members of his glorious body.
God bless you.