Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Heavenly Bodies

I was recently listening to Mark Shea on Sacred Heart Radio. He was guest hosting Sound Insight, a wonderful program which I listen to every morning on the way to work.

The topic of discussion was the 4 last things: death, judgment, hell and heaven. I was really struck by one thing Mark said on the show: Jesus Christ remains bodily in heaven. That is, He's still one of us.

All this time I've been thinking of Him as some disembodied spirit. In a similar vein, I've always thought of heaven as a rather bland place where bodiless saints float around all day on clouds with nothing much to do. But the truth is that heaven is far from a dull place.

Consider the mass. When we participate in the mass, we are participating with the angels and saints in a perpetual and glorious heavenly liturgy beyond even the most splendid liturgy here on earth. In the mass, we are participating in the once-and-for-all sacrifice of God's own flesh and blood. Think about this for a minute: the eucharist is a partaking of the actual body and blood of our Lord who is in heaven in His fully human, fully God, fully glorified body. There's a direct connection between the host of which we partake, and the living, physical body of Jesus in heaven. That takes my breath away.

In Mark's recent piece on the National Catholic Register, he goes on to explain that:

"[H]eaven will involve not merely what we call our 'spirit,' but every part of us — including the body. That is the point of Christ’s resurrection. Humans are not disembodied spirits. We exist in perfection only as a union of body, soul and spirit.

So the perfect happiness of heaven necessarily entails our resurrection in a glorified body like Christ’s. And a glorified body must, in turn, exist in some sort of place, not simply float around in the ether.

...we will experience not only the ecstasy and glory of perfect communion with God and one another in perfect love, but also the pleasures of sense that are ours as physical beings." (emphasis mine)

Consider the beauty and splendor of this earth. This world is only a shadow of things to come. If the world in which we live is a wondrous and glorious place, imagine how much more wondrous our lives will be in heaven!

Read Mark Shea's piece on National Catholic Register

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