Saturday, August 8, 2015

Fr. Chuck's Column, Sunday, August 9

This Saturday, August 15, we celebrate the beautiful feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into the fullness of life of heaven. That fullness of life is not just her soul but the fullness of her being, body and soul. Mary now participates fully in Jesus’ triumph over death by enjoying fully the resurrection of her body.
This is also what we hope for: complete, eternal, total life for our full being, body and soul. Christians do not believe solely in an immortal soul, but rather in the resurrection of the body.
Now this is a more difficult belief than merely believing in the immortality of the soul. Because the soul is so amorphous, intangible, even a bit spooky, it is rather easy to imagine that it perdures and continues on after death. That is an easy one.
But that is not what we profess in the Creed. We believe instead in “the resurrection of the body,” as we state each Sunday. Since we all know that bodies decay, belief in the resurrection of the dead is more challenging than mere belief in the immortality of the soul. This difficulty is hardly new. St. Paul dealt with this issue of the resurrection of the dead in the 15th chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians, in response to those who pooh-poohed belief in the resurrection. I recommend you read it.
The analogy St. Paul uses is of planting a seed. What grows is not a giant seed, but a plant somehow intimately connected to that seed. If you plant an acorn, you don’t get a giant acorn but rather an oak. There is an intimate connection, but they are not the same. So our material body dies and disintegrates, and what will be raised is not another material body but rather a spiritual body no longer subject to decay nor infirmity nor death.
What will that be like? After the resurrection will I still be overweight? Bald? Needing glasses? Will you still recognize my resurrected body as me, as the disciples (with some hesitation) recognized the Risen Jesus? Frankly we don’t know. And most probably we cannot know because we do not have the categories or vocabulary to describe this reality. We do know that it will be ME, not some amorphous field of energy, but the fullness of my individual personhood. That is what the resurrection of the body is all about.
Mary – by a special favor of her Son – already enjoys the resurrection of her body. She and Jesus are literally face to face in love. The rest of us will also enjoy the resurrection of our bodies, but we have to wait till the consummation of time to experience that. So in the meantime we celebrate Mary’s Assumption into heaven as a sign and foretaste of what we hope to enjoy for eternity. Please join us to celebrate this Feast at 9 a.m. next Saturday, August 15. While the Assumption is certainly a very holy day, this year, because it falls on a Saturday, it is not a holy day of obligation.
God bless,

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