Sunday, 28 April 2013

5th Sunday of Easter, Year C, Shaftesbury

Rev 21:1-5
I'm going to give a briefer than normal homily today because we have an appeal at the end of Mass and I'm going to ask you to give your time and attention to that. I do, however, want to say a few words about the fact that when we die we do NOT become angels.

As Christians, we believe in the “the resurrection of the dead” as we say every week in the Creed and as we’ll say again in just a few short minutes.
In contrast, you sometimes hear people attempt to offer words of consolation when someone has died and say something like, “Don’t worry, he (or she) is an angel now”. These words seem nice. Seem reassuring. However, they are not true. And, here is an important point: these words are not as reassuring as the truth, namely, that there is a resurrection of the body.

Angels, Scripture tells us, and our Catholic Faith has solemnly defined, are spiritual beings, purely spiritual. They have no body.
We, however, as humans, do have a body. Having a body is part of what we are. We also have a spiritual soul, but what makes us different to the angels is that we have a body. When we die, our body dies, though our spiritual soul lives on. But that is not the end. We receive a new resurrected body. If we have been good and lived with Christ, then that new body is transfigured and glorified like Christ’s resurrected body. We don’t get our old bodies back, but new transfigured bodies.

Our second reading today, and all through Eastertide, is from the book of Revelation. And it describes a series of apocalyptic events that pretty much culminate in the truth we heard in the text today, that there will be “a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth”(Rev 21:1) will disappear. And who will do this? Who will work this change? The Lord of life who Himself rose from death, the one who “sits on the throne”(Rev 21:5). “Through Him all things were made” (Jn 1:3) in the beginning, and through Him all things will be re-made, “Behold, I make all things new”(Rev 21:5).
This is what we celebrate all through Eastertide.

And that making of all things new includes the re-making of our bodies. And that is something better than the angels have.
The Lord Jesus became a man. He has shared our nature. He did not become an angel. He has not shared the nature of angels. As a consequence, we enjoy a greater glory and a greater union with God than that enjoyed by the angels.
And what this means is that “the resurrection of the body” is a much greater thing than becoming an angel.

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