Our understanding of the universe and science is now quite different, Root noted.
“I don't think we should expect that we could fly to where Jesus is with a rocketship,” he said, though it might be that heaven, and therefore Jesus’ body, exists in a dimension that is not accessible by humans.
“Modern science will sometimes talk about a space-time continuum. Quantum physics will talk about maybe there being other space-time continua than ours. Does his body ascend into a different dimension, other dimensions than we have?” he asked.
“But one always has to say: ‘We have to think about this somehow, but we shouldn't pretend that our way of thinking about it...that we can put a whole lot of weight on it.’”
If Jesus’ body and Mary’s body can be in heaven, why must everyone else wait until the end of time to be reunited with their glorified bodies?
Barber said the answer can be found in Romans 8:16-17: “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.”
“We are fellow heirs with Christ provided we suffer with him,” Barber noted. “You can't get to Easter Sunday, apart from Good Friday. You can't have a resurrected body, you can't share in Jesus's resurrection, without also participating in his death.”
This imitation of Christ, even unto death, is the “ultimate expression of faithfulness” that one can achieve, Barber said.
“Christ wants to do in his mystical body, the church, what he did in his personal body. He wants us all to be resurrected with him, but we also have to be conformed to his image, as Paul says in Romans 8:29. That involves learning obedience, it means exhibiting faithfulness by embracing our cross and picking up our cross,” he said.
“Death is the ultimate expression of faithfulness. A lot of people want to imagine that Mary's assumption means that she was glorified without her death, but John Paul II doesn't really go in that direction. John Paul II seems to indicate that no, Mary actually died,” because if she hadn’t been allowed to do so, “it would almost be to deprive Mary of making the ultimate gift of herself. Because of the fall (of man), death is a curse. But what Christ does is he redeems death.”
Root added that we must wait for our resurrected bodies because we must wait for the transformation of all matter - which will happen at the end of time, when there will be a “new heaven and a new earth,” as noted in the book of Revelation.
“Part of getting our bodies back, so to speak, will be the transformation of all matter. I mean, in some ways, I don't want my body back. I'd like a better one, one where my knees don't hurt, other such things. So our resurrection is a part of the consummation of all things,” he said.
In a way, he said, that transformation has already occurred in Jesus and Mary, who are already reunited with their glorified bodies in heaven.
“But...the resurrection of all the rest of us must be a part of that transformation of all things, the transformation of matter, the glorification of all things.
“From thence he will come again to judge the living and the dead”: How is the Final Judgment different from the judgment of each person’s soul at their death?
In the Apostles Creed, the next line after Jesus’ ascension into heaven is that “he will come again to judge the living and the dead.” How is this different than each soul going to either heaven, hell, or purgatory at the time of that person’s death?
“That's a really important question, and it's a helpful thing to reflect on,” Barber said.
“You know, a lot of these aspects of Catholic teachings at first, they seem really strange and they seem almost unnecessary...It seems like there's just these different beliefs that crop up and they don't really fit together. And so it just looks like this man-made religion that doesn't really have a lot of truth to it.”
But that is not the case, Barber said, and the Catechism explains these two judgments further.
“When you die, you stand before the throne of God and you need to make a given account,” Barber said, a belief which can be found in Hebrews Chapter 9: "It is appointed for men to die once and after that comes the judgment."
“So we know that there's a judgment at the moment of our deaths,” Barber said. “But then we also know about the general judgment of the dead. Jesus talks about this in Matthew 25. He's going to come back and ‘separate the sheep from the goats.’”
What this judgment means, Barber said, is that Jesus will fully reveal, “to its furthest consequences, the good each person has done or failed to do during his life.”
“So here's the reality, during our own life we can't know (all of the consequences) of our choices, of our actions. We don't see, even in our lifetime, how the decisions we make affect future generations,” he noted.
“But the Catechism of the Church explains that on the last day, part of the final judgment is making known everything that has been hidden,” which Jesus talks about in Matthew 12, he said.
“Jesus says that nothing is covered up that will not be revealed. So on the last day, the things that are said in the dark will be heard in the light. What you've heard whispered in private rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.”
In other words: “There are going to be no more secrets.”
What the Final Judgment does *not* mean, Root said, is that a soul’s personal judgment - whether they go to heaven, hell, or purgatory - can somehow be reversed. “It isn't that you can hope you'll get a better deal in the last judgment. It's not like that,” he said.
The last judgment is a public event, Root added, while a soul’s own judgment is a private one.
“History as a whole has a final destiny with God. God will sum history up...we will all see the glory of God, including his judgment, together. And we will see that the murderer does not triumph, that the meek will inherit the earth. And we will see that cruelty, oppression was always wrong. And it is defeated in the end. So, the stress has often been on the sort of public character of the last judgment,” he said.
And, importantly, just as Jesus does not ultimately shed his body, everyone’s bodies will participate either in their eternal reward or eternal punishment once the final judgment has been made, Root noted.
“Our body participated in our good and bad deeds, and so the body must in the end participate in the judgment.”