Resurrection of the Body
by Father Pete Iorio
A man showed up at Church with both his ears painfully blistered. After the service, his concerned pastor asked, “What in the world happened to you?” The man replied, “I was lying on the couch yesterday afternoon watching a ball game on TV and my wife was ironing nearby. I was totally engrossed in the game when she left the room, leaving the iron near the phone. The phone rang and keeping my eyes glued to the television, I grabbed the hot iron and put it to my ear.” “So how did the other ear get burned?” the pastor asked. “Well, I had no more than hung up and the guy called again.” [Bill Tewels, “Overheard at the Country Café,” Country (Oct-Nov 1994), p. 45.]
In our Gospel lesson for today the disciples get their ears figuratively burned because they think they are hearing is outrageous. Remember this is Luke’s Gospel and so far, only the women had come back with news of that two men in dazzling garments reported that he had risen when they went to the tomb. Peter himself had found the tomb empty. And most baffling of all, two disciples reported that they had walked with him on the road to Emmaus. They were confused. So, when the Risen Christ appears to them and tells them to touch his scarred body and to give him something to eat, they are startled and terrified, cannot believe what they see and hear.
This passage is very significant. Jesus tells them that a ghost does not have flesh and bones nor eat baked fish for that matter. He is not just pure spirit. Scripture tells us that Jesus is the firstborn from the dead and in our creed, we profess that we believe in the resurrection of the body… my body and your body. This is mindboggling. How? At what age in my life will my resurrected body be? I do not have an answer. It is part of the mystery. We do know that Jesus’ body was glorified, even the wounds.
I want to first point out what it is not saying and yet what most people hear. The creed does not say we believe in the resurrection of the spirit or the soul! Of course it doesn’t, because the soul cannot die. We are asserting that human embodiment has an eternal character to it. (Read all of 1 Corinthians chapter 15 where Paul tries to communicate this in endlessly mysterious ways.)
Christianity makes a daring and broad affirmation: God is redeeming matter and spirit, the whole of creation. The Bible speaks of the “new heavens and the new earth” and the descent of the “new Jerusalem from the heavens” to “live among us” (Revelation 21:1-3). This physical universe and our own physicality are somehow going to share in the Eternal Mystery. Your body participates in the very mystery of salvation. In fact, it is the new and lasting temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). All of Creation is moving toward its completion and glorification in Christ. Just as our human bodies need to be cared for, so does our Earth. We have a responsibility as Christians to make sure that the earth and all that it contains is not abused. Care for Creation is a moral responsibility.
Many Christians falsely assumed that if they could “die” to their body, their spirit would for some reason miraculously arise. This happened with the practice of extreme asceticism. Often the opposite was the case because the abuse to their bodies caused it to deteriorate and die.
Our poor bodies have become the receptacles of so much negativity and obsession. The West is now trapped in substance addiction, obesity, anorexia, bulimia, plastic surgery, pornography, sexting and an obsession with appearance and preserving these bodies. St. John Paul II has given us a theology of the body to affirm the goodness of the body and the Christian understanding of chastity.
Jesus actually affirmed our bodies by His incarnation and resurrection. Body and spirit are both important and go together as completeness of the human person. We Christians should care for our bodies AND we Christians should care for our souls AND we Christians should care for the earth and all it contains. Both body and soul need healthy nourishment and healthy practices to keep them strong. In the Gospel today, Jesus opens the minds of the disciples to understand the Scriptures. Growing in understanding the holy word of God is important for healthy souls. Jesus also mentions repentance for the forgiveness of sins. In my own experience, failure to forgive, takes a toll on our physical bodies. Have you ever held a grudge against someone? I googled: effects of holding a grudge and a site for the Mayo Clinic popped up and gave this list: What are the effects of holding a grudge?
If you’re unforgiving, you might:
Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience.
Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present
Become depressed or anxious
Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs
Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others
This is one more indication to me that body and soul work together in each of us human persons, and when Christianity is in any way anti-body, it is not authentic Christianity. The incarnation tells us that body and spirit must fully operate and be respected as one.
I add these passages from Pope Francis Apostolic Exhortation: REJOICE AND BE GLAD
156. The prayerful reading of God’s word, which is “sweeter than honey” (Ps 119:103) yet a “two-edged sword” (Heb 4:12), enables us to pause and listen to the voice of the Master. It becomes a lamp for our steps and a light for our path (cf. Ps 119:105). As the bishops of India have reminded us, “devotion to the word of God is not simply one of many devotions, beautiful but somewhat optional. It goes to the very heart and identity of Christian life. The word has the power to transform lives”.
157. Meeting Jesus in the Scriptures leads us to the Eucharist, where the written word attains its greatest efficacy, for there the living Word is truly present. In the Eucharist, the one true God receives the greatest worship the world can give him, for it is Christ himself who is offered. When we receive him in Holy Communion, we renew our covenant with him and allow him to carry out ever more fully his work of transforming our lives.
Remember Eucharist is The BODY OF CHRIST!