The Resurrection of our Body

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Beloved in the Lord,
The various parts of Holy Mass have symbolic meaning; for example at the Consecration, and when the priest raises the Host and the Chalice, we see ourselves at the Cross – reminded by the one that hangs here – And if the Consecration signifies the death of Jesus, Holy Communion is linked to his Resurrection from the dead. When the priest breaks the Host over the chalice and we might think of the tomb breaking open – a piece of the Sacred Host is broken and mixed into the Precious Blood. If at the Consecration, separation of Body and Blood signifies death, then this re-joining of Body and Blood signifies Christ’s glorious resurrection.
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And as for us – the fathers of the Church from the beginning called Holy Communion the ‘Secret of the Resurrection.’ Holy Communion is the antidote to death. Jesus said, ‘He who eats this bread will live forever.’
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Now in the gospel today, we see this encounter with Jesus and the Sadducees. The Sadducees only believed the first 5 books of the bible, nothing else. They also did not believe in the next life. When you die, they said, that’s it, you’re dead. So they did not believe in life after death, or the resurrection, because they did not find it mentioned in the first 5 books of the bible, so they thought.
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To make their point, they come to Jesus and propose a scenario to him, where a woman has had in her life, 7 husbands who have each died. And they ask, if there is really a resurrection Jesus, – ah, then – which one will be her husband in the life to come? But Jesus says, you are wrong because you do not know the scriptures. for in the resurrection, people do not get married. We will rise, in our glorified bodies; but in that day, we will not be married in an earthly way. We will be married to God, and also we will be in union with all the members of the Church, with our spouse or spouses from our earthly life yes – if they are in heaven – but this union will not have exclusivity, this ‘Communion of the Saints’ will be a whole new way of being together in perfect charity.[i]
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The Sadducees did not believe in life after death. But now we see how amazing a teacher Jesus is: Our Lord proceeds to quote from the Book of Exodus – which the Sadducees accept! Christ replies, ‘have you not read – where God says, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Notice, it doesn’t say: I WAS the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he says, I AM the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Because, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – aren’t dead. They are alive. So it’s brilliant – Our Lord shows them that even way back in the Book of Exodus, the resurrection is indicated. It says, ‘When the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching!
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So how many people these days are still Sadducees, who do not really believe that on that Great Day, we will be resurrected, alive, in our glorious bodies? No wonder people only live for transitory pleasures. The great secret for us Christians, is the resurrection. Not only Jesus rose from the dead, but we will too. This is why its called, the Good News! It’s why Jesus came.
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Jesus was born, he grew up, he worked; he died – and he rose in his glorified body, and ascended to Paradise. We are his followers. We are born, we grow up, we work and suffer and die.  And we will rise, in glorified bodies and enter paradise. This is why Jesus is called the First-born from the dead – because he went first; he conquered death and we will follow.
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Where do we get this power, to rise from the dead? The power comes to us from Jesus, mediated through the sacraments, beginning in Baptism, but so much in Holy Communion. As I said, the early Christians called the Eucharist the ‘antidote’ to death. They risked their life to get to Holy Mass, because our eternal life is at stake. This is why the martyrs were not afraid of death. Its why that mother we read about in the book of Macabbees, urged her sons to give their life for the Faith. They believed that God will raise them up. It’s why we are not afraid to die.
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St. Paul says, ‘Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall all rise, in the twinkling of an eye. At the last trumpet, the dead will rise, and we shall be changed. At the little cemetery up at Mundelein, there is a very cool statue of an angel blowing a trumpet. This signifies the end of the world and the resurrection of the body.
 
There seems to be one main reason people are unhappy today. They don’t really believe in the resurrection of their body. They seem unsure of what the next life will bring. Friends, if a Catholic does not believe in the resurrection of their body, they are rejecting a central teaching of our Faith. Every Sunday we say in the Creed: ‘I believe in the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.’ this changes everything about our life. As St. Paul says, if there is no resurrection of the dead, then our faith is worthless. But Christ has indeed been raised, he is the first, we follow him. As scripture says, ‘since death came through one man, Adam, so the resurrection of the dead comes also through one Man, Jesus.

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A few years ago we were burying a woman at Rosehill cemetery – it’s a big cemetery. After the prayers, as the people dispersed, a mother and her children walked over to chat with me, it turns out that the deceased was a very dear aunt to the children, Aunt Anne. They looked at me with their sad little hearts, so I said to them: ‘Do you kids want to hear a secret? ‘Look out at this vast cemetery. You see all those thousands of graves and tombs there? Their eyes scanned the rolling hills, the myriad of tombstones. ‘Those graves are all people who are waiting. And at the end of the world Jesus is going to wake everyone up and have them go to paradise with him, and it will be the happiest day in the world. ‘They will be alive,’ they asked? ‘Yes, I said, very alive.’ ‘Even Aunt Anne? Even Aunt Anne. And they were very happy, because they had faith in the power of God.
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You know, the word ‘death’ was rarely used by early Christians.[ii] They said, the person has ‘fallen asleep.’ We still say that in the Eucharistic Prayers. In fact, the word ‘cemetery,’ comes from the Greek word[iii] which means ‘sleeping place’ – The cemetery is a sleeping place, until the resurrection.[iv]
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If someone said to us, at a certain hour a dead person will be raised to life, we would run very quickly to see it.[v] Well, if you are a faithful Christian, you will one day not only see ‘some’ person raised, you will be raised.
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Let us then ask Mary to help us in our faith – Mary, help us to live and believe as true Christians, and one day be worthy of the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen. +

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Peter]

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[i] Jesus says, just as angels don’t get married in heaven, we also won’t be married, in an earthly way, in heaven. – note that this is a dig, since the Sadducees do not believe in angels.

[ii] ‘The Histor of the Mass and its Ceremonies in the Eastern and Western Church’ – John O’Brien, p. 344.

[iii] (dormitory(κοιμητήριον)).

[iv] And also, in Germany of old, people saw the body placed in the ground

to be like the seed sown by a farmer awaiting growth.

Even grave stones were compared to those little signs

that a farmer places, to show what type of flower or plant is planted there.

In those days, words for burying a person in the grave

conveyed the idea of hiding a treasure until the future.

[v] Little Catechism, p. 38.

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