Will our bodies rise to eternal life?

Fr Florian

The dogma of our faith that says that God will rise mortal man to fullness of life and our own bodies draws its certainty from Jesus' teaching, but first of all from the fact of his resurrection and ascension (cf. Compendium, 202-206).
Jesus ascended into heaven in his body, which was an earthy body and which after death was buried, but after three days his body rose to life, was glorified and taken to the dimension, which is due to the existence of the Son of God.
However, we ask if our mortal bodies that decay or are burnt and often become building materials of other living creatures, will also rise to life, return to their first shapes, to their earlier chemical and physical structures? Can they go back on the way of long chemical transformations? St Augustine would say' 'Christ has risen so that we can believe without hesitation in our own resurrection which will come true'. As Jesus made his body rise to life so will he make our bodies rise to life.
The General Resurrection of our bodies will be on the day the Son of God returns in his own body to judge the living and the dead. He said he would come as the Son of Man. We do not know in what way our resurrected bodies will be identical with the bodies we had on earth. Undoubtedly, they will not consist of the same particles, which changed during every human life, especially they changed several times in longer lives. But the bodies will come out of them, will have identical shapes, will be so rooted in the former elements of the flesh that could be regarded as identical with the bodies we once had. One would like to say that they would be rebuilt in an instantaneous way, cloned from personal genetic codes, the matrixes of which are kept in our immortal souls. However, we do realize that such a hypothesis endangers this article of faith and pushes it into a small bag of our, so limited, knowledge. The fact how it will be done exceeds our imagination and cognitive horizons of our mind (Compendium, 205, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 999). St Paul is certain of one thing: perishable body is buried but Jesus gives us the assurance that 'the dead will be raised imperishable' and glorified. The body will posses unique properties, the gift of penetrating power, it will not feel pain, will have the mind capable to see God 'face to face', will be set free from the slavery to corruption and death, and first of all it will be part of God's life and glory. Many contemporary Christians have been infected by the Hindu idea of reincarnation - return to life but in a different body, usually a non-human body, but for example the body of some animal. And this is even a multiple return, which aims at disappearing in nothingness. The Christian vision does not condemn man to stick in the wheel of new and humiliating incarnations, which will end with a fall into the lethargy of nirvana. On the contrary, it shows a place for human beings, including their bodies, in the glory of Almighty God, where people will be part of his eternal joy, power and reign. When reciting the creed you say 'I believe in the resurrection of the body' and confess that your body, touched by the sting of death and transformed into dust, will be raised to life. And it will not only be reconstructed but also gifted with properties, which are due to those who will be part of the glory, power and reign of the resurrected Christ, that like now, together with your corporeality, you will be in the Land where God himself is the Beauty and Content.

"Niedziela" 45/2005

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl