Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory/My Faith/Theology You’re Not Just Some “Body” by Mary Bielski ‘So, I was looking in the mirror today and actually got a glimpse of my butt. It’s extraordinarily big!’ Says Jenny, 17. Yes, Jenny was blessed with a round tushy that could probably outshine Beyonce. But Jenny hates it. ‘It’s so big, I think I’m taller sitting down that when I’m standing up! I want to get rid of my butt!’ Do you struggle with your body? Let’s face it. We all do! That’s why it’s so exciting to think about heaven, right? The moment we are free — no more ‘too fat,’ ‘too short,’ or ‘too skinny.’ We’ll never have to worry about bad hair days, annoying wrinkles, or our bellies protruding over our belts after chowing down on Thanksgiving dessert. In heaven, we’re going to be spiritual beings, floating on white fluffy clouds (and holding baby puppies) . . . Right? Wrong. Get this. You are going to be with your body forever . . . RAISE THE ROOF and ‘DA BODY Here’s the scoop. One day when we die, our souls will be united to God in heaven and there, yes, we will be spiritual beings. But that’s not the end . . . We wait for the second coming of Christ, the final judgment, and the resurrection of the dead, where our bodies will be raised up. We don’t hear about this key Christian teaching very often: the resurrection of the body (Romans 8:11). In the Apostles’ Creed we say: “I believe . . . in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” We proclaim the same belief in the Nicene Creed every Sunday at Mass too! The good. The bad . . . the different? So what is the resurrected body like? The Catechism says: ‘We sow a corruptible body in the tomb, but He raises up an incorruptible body, a “spiritual body” (CCC 1017). To understand this ‘resurrected body stuff’ we need to look to Jesus Himself. After the resurrection, Jesus appeared in bodily form, flesh and bones, with the wounds of crucifixion (Lk 24: 39). He could be touched, and he chewed and swallowed fish. He had a body! But we can also conclude that there was something different about his body. After the resurrection, Jesus could miraculously appear in locked rooms, or ascend into heaven (John 20:19-20; Acts 1:9). And even His BFFs (those who knew him best ) did not recognize him (Luke 24:16). Okay, so Jesus was either sporting a totally new hair-do, or the glorified body must have looked different than what we know our body to be now. So I’ll have my body forever!? I bet there are a million questions are flooding your mind right now! If we decompose after death, how is this even possible? (Don’t even think about cremation, your head will explode!) How will my glorified body be ‘different?’ What will it look like? Will people be able to recognize ME!? What about my tattoo? Or my scar on my leg from 1st grade? Will my balding hair grow back? …. The truth is, I don’t know all those answers. Paul tells us that we will be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51). The body will be imperishable, immortal, glorious, powerful, and spiritual (vs. 42-44, 53). You will have a body, but it will be a changed and glorified. Paul compares this change to a sprouting seed (v. 37). A tree does not look at all like an acorn, but it is made of the same substance. We cannot predict fully the appearance of the tree. And we need not worry about the details of our ‘spiritual body’ (CCC 1017). We just hold onto the mystery. We’re all about the body. But seriously, if you think about it, why does God even bother with this body stuff? Wouldn’t it be easier to take our spirits and dance Gangham Style with Him forever? God created physical matter, and because he created it, it matters! One of cool part of being Christian, is that we believe that the body is not bad, but good. The early Church battled over this teaching. Long named dudes like: the Platonists, Pythagoreans, Gnostics, and Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection of the body. To them, the physical body was a prison for the soul. As Catholics we know different: The body is good. Your body is part of who you are. If God made us to be a whole person (body and soul) why would we spend eternity as only half of who we are? God did not make our bodies just to be used and later destroyed. He created the physical world and came to renew it into a NEW heavens and NEW earth. In fact, Jesus was made flesh for the very purpose of redeeming all things (Colossians 1:19-20). God is not abandoning the physical world, He is rescuing it. This salvation involves the “redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). So next time you look in the mirror and critique your plump tushy or get frustrated with being the shortest guy in class . . . Remember – Your body isn’t just a collection of parts. Your body is important: it’s YOU. Ask God to remind you that your body is something awesome and that it’s process of becoming new and improved, along with your soul.