Third Sunday of Easter
April 15, 2018 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

If we enter a gym and ask people on the equipment who are exercising really hard, sweating and burning calories, how important the body is, I think they will answer: “It is very, very important—especially when summer is coming!”

Today´s Gospel talks about the importance of the body. The spiritual is important but so is the physical.

When I was a child, I thought about the soul many times. I learned that when we die, our souls go to Heaven and our bodies go into the ground. I tried to imagine what the soul could be. One time, I saw a representation of a soul in a church, a head with two wings! It seemed very strange to me to go to Heaven without a body. I only solved this existential question much later, when I was studying theology. I found a very important truth of our faith in the Apostles’ Creed, when we say that we believe in “the resurrection of the body.”

Jesus said to the amazed and incredulous apostles: “Look at my hands and my feet, that is I myself” (Lk 24:39). The nail marks demonstrate that Jesus’ risen body is the same body that had been crucified only days earlier.

“Christ’s transformed body is also the place where men enter into communion with God and with one another […]” (Jesus of Nazareth: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, Benedict XVI). When Jesus says, “Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have” (Lk 24:39), he is inviting us to enter into communion with him, to enter into God’s life as present in his flesh. In the Risen One, matter becomes the path to the eternal. The glorified body is the instrument of the encounter between God and man. Jesus’ body continues in his Church, his mystical body. It is there that we can touch the nail marks and experience their saving power.

St. Ambrose says, “Jesus’ risen body prefigures the resurrected bodies of the saints. By convincing us of his Resurrection, he likewise assures us of the physical nature of our own resurrection on the Last Day.”

We can ask how our bodies can rise if we finish in the dust. Saint Irenaeus says that God, who created us out of nothing, is also able to create a glorious body from the dust.

Our risen bodies will be the same bodies that we possessed during our earthly lives, only transformed by new and spiritual qualities. The Resurrection of Christ crucified is a demonstration of this. It is not a dogma of faith but, as Saint Thomas says: “All will rise in the condition of perfect age, which is thirty-two or thirty-three years.”

The Resurrection of Christ shows us that God’s salvation embraces all that we are, spirit and matter. The Risen One glorified everything. He made matter transparent to the spirit.

If someone asks us how important the body is for us, we can answer: “It is very, very important because it is a sign of God’s love.”  Amen.

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