Vatican City, Sep 19, 2014 / 14:37 pm
Bodily resurrection is a reality which is the seal of our identity as Christians, Pope Francis said in his Friday morning homily at Santa Marta.
Pointing to the people of Corinth, whom St. Paul spoke to in the readings during Mass, the Pope noted the Corinthians have similar problems as Christians today have when it comes to grasping the resurrection of human bodies.
"[They] had other ideas: 'sure, the dead are justified, they shall not got to hell – good thing, too! – but they'll go into the cosmos, into the air – just the soul before God'," the Pope said.
People today, too, tend to believe in some sort of "cosmic pantheism" rather than the resurrection and transformation of our physical human bodies, the pontiff explained, because it is easier to accept.
"There is resistance to the transformation, resistance to the work of the Spirit we received at Baptism, which is to transform us utterly, unto the Resurrection," the pope observed. "When we speak of this, our language tells us: 'I want to go to heaven, I don't want to go to hell', but we stop there. None of us says: 'I shall rise as Christ [did]'. No, even for us it is difficult to understand this."
But the Christian understanding of what happens to our bodies after we die is much more radical, he said.
"[The Christian teaching on the bodily resurrection] is a scandal: they cannot understand it," he said of the Corinthians. "This is why Paul offers the following line of reasoning, which is quite clear: 'If Christ is risen, how can they say that there is not among yourselves resurrection from the dead, as well? If Christ is risen, the dead, too, shall rise.'"
Bodily resurrection is a part of the Profession of Faith said at Mass by Catholics: "I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come."
This reality is the heart of Christian identity, Pope Francis said, that is: "being with the Lord, in body and soul." He went onto explain that we are most complete as Christians "with the resurrection of our bodies, with our resurrection."
We begin our journey to our resurrection here on earth, the pope observed, as disciples of the Lord.
"And as we get the habit of being with the Lord, this fear of the transformation of our body withers."
Our resurrection is our great hope as Christians because it is how we will abide with God forever, the Pope said, reflecting on the words of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, who also had difficulty understanding.
"At the end we will be with Him."