Every Sunday we profess, “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.” Do we ever think about what that means?
First Reading: 2Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14
Gospel: Luke 20:27-38
At the time of death the soul is separated from the body and is judged—ultimately either to heaven or hell. For the soul that dies in the state of grace, but is still not perfect, there is purgatory to purify the soul to be able to be in heaven where there is only perfection. At the final judgment the soul is reunited with the body to experience either the joys of heaven or the pains of hell even in the body. As Saint Paul reminds us, the Baptized are temples of the Holy Spirit. That is why how we physically live is so important. Saint Cyril of Jerusalem gives us some good basic advice: “Respect your body since it is your good fortune to be a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not stain your body…and if perchance you have stained it, purify it right away through penance. Clean it while you still have time.”
We clean our souls through the Sacrament of Confession and praying and doing penance everyday. Go often to confession!! Our Lord has given us this way to have our sins forgiven.
The resurrection of the body will be awesome. Desiring the joys of heaven and detesting and loathing the possibility of eternal death in hell should lead us to a deeper conversion. No sacrifice is ever too bid, and we should never live our lives in order to fit into a society which is quickly turning away from God. No, we live so as to witness to the reality of the resurrection! Our Lord points out that the resurrected persons will live forever and there will be no procreation.
Part of this is striving to live the virtue of holy purity, to respect that gift of sexuality as something sacred. For married couples this entails fidelity to one’s spouse in all areas and never doing anything to frustrate the life giving powers of the marriage act. The sexual act is reserved for marriage and that is why all who have intimate relations outside of the sacrament sin in a serious way. Those who are not married of course abstain from any sexual act. For all of us we must guard our hearts and our eyes from any occasions of sin, and guard against the sin of lust. Purity is a life giving virtue, and we need to ask God’s grace to live it well. There is a great scourge in our day and age of the sin of pornography. The sacrament of confession and prayer are a powerful means of overcoming this terrible addiction. Remember if we have a mortal sin, we must go to confession before receiving Holy Communion. For those couples who are in a civil union, but not married in the church, remember that for the act to be good and holy it must be within the sacrament of matrimony. Come and speak to your priest about rectifying the situation—it has been a great joy of mine to help several couples to re enter into the state of grace and to be married in the church. Do not delay! The resurrection, the sacredness of the human body are why we do not live like animals.
Now for those who are married and wonder, “what about my spouse? How will we relate?” Saint John Chrysostom gives some good wisdom to husbands:
“Say to [your wife]: ‘Our time here is brief and fleeting, but if we are pleasing to God, we can exchange this life of the Kingdom to come. Then we will be perfectly one both with Christ and with each other, and our pleasure will know no bounds” in the resurrection there will be no procreation, and the bond between persons will be without any barriers. Thus marriage as we know it will not be, because it will be something that exceeds what we can understand in this life.
We see some great and courageous witnesses to the hope of the resurrection in the book of Maccabees. This was before Christ had come, and their belief was so strong, but our belief, our response, needs to be even stronger. The king tried to force them to live like Gentiles and reject God. They refused, and nothing would stand in their way. We need to have the same stubbornness in living for God, and rejecting any sin or situation that could lead us to hell. At the end of this encounter with the sadducees, there is an epic mic drop. They can say nothing in response. At our judgment, it will be the same. We will say nothing, but we will see our lives flash before us, and we will be presented with the truth. Now is the time of mercy, now is the time of conversion. We do not know how long we will live, but we want to live forever with God in heaven, and we need to show this belief by our very lives, remembering the great example of the Maccabee brothers. Amen.
Read more about the resurrection of the body in the Catechism of The Catholic Church, beginning at paragraph 988