Bodily resurrection

Published November 10, 2019, 12:01 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD
Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

A priest-friend related to me how he tried to grapple mentally with a skeptical parishioner who had doubts about God’s existence and the life hereafter.

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“Life is short. Mag-enjoy na lang tayo dito sa lupa” (Let’s just enjoy here on earth), the parishioner said. “Fr. kapag namatay ka, tapos na ang lahat” (When you die, it’s the end of everything). In other words: “Eat and be merry, for tomorrow you die.”

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In attempting to reason otherwise, my friend said, “But with all the evils and injustices committed that go unpunished in this life, with all the sufferings of the innocent at the hands of the wicked, don’t you think that there must be an Ultimate Judge who will right all wrongs in the next life? Without retribution, striving to be good would be useless and life utterly meaningless.”

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The answer moved the skeptic to pause and think. Indeed, what’s the meaning of life? After death, what? Is there a bodily resurrection in the afterlife?

In this Sunday gospel (Lk 20, 27-38), the subject of conversation between Jesus and some Saducees is bodily resurrection.

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The Saducees in Jesus’ time were a Jewish sect made up of members of the priestly aristocracy.

A very conservative group, the Saducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, reward and punishment or future life. By the way, there are some people today who have the same belief.

The Saducees are trying to test Jesus on the subject by presenting a bizarre hypothetical case.

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“There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and died without children; and the second and third up to the seventh leaving no children and died.

Afterwards the woman also died.  In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be?  For the seven had her as wife” (Lk 20, 29-33).

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Obviously, the question is meant not to prove that women are stronger than men. Neither are the Saducees looking for an answer, but rather are trying to reduce the idea of bodily resurrection to the absurd and even ridiculous.

Jesus ripostes that they are too mundane, too materialistic to understand the resurrection.

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What kind of body will we have?  We don’t know exactly but we do have an idea from Christ’s glorified body.  After rising from the dead, he told the apostles, “Touch me, and see that a ghost does not have flesh and bones as I do” (Lk 24, 39).

He even ate some fish to prove the point further. At the same time, his body differed from his former earthly body.  He could pass through locked doors. He could appear and reappear.

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Some people today would ask how God can put together a body that has disintegrated in the grave, or worse still, a body that has been eaten by sharks or blown to pieces in an atomic explosion as in Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

The restoration of our disintegrated bodies will be taken care of by an all-powerful God.

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No matter how terrifying death may be, whether at the hands of terrorists, murderers, or a wasting disease like cancer, life will be restored. That is a bedrock teaching (dogma) of the Catholic faith which we recite in the Catholic CREED, thus: “I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”

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Our God is a God of the living and NOT of the dead. Therefore, as long as we are alive, there should be no room for  fear, discouragement and despair. That is,  if we’re faithful to God’s teachings, repentant of our sins and doing good deeds, especially to the “least of Christ’s brethren.”

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THE LIGHTER SIDE. A group of friends wanted to know if there was basketball in heaven. They agreed that whoever died first should come back to inform them.

Dado died first. One night, Rodel heard something like the voice of Dado. Rodel blurted out: Are you the one, Dado?

Dado: Yes. Rodel: Okay, tell me: Is there basketball in heaven?

Dado: Yes, but I have good and bad news for you. The good news is there is basketball in heaven. The bad news: you will join us in the game tomorrow!