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Feb 07th
Home Sections The Daily B.R.E.A.D. The Dignity of the Human Body
The Dignity of the Human Body PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 10 November 2007 00:30

The resurrection of the body is declared by Jesus. The liturgy for this Sunday's Mass brings our attention to one of the truths of the Faith listed in the Creed: the resurrection of the body and the reality of life everlasting. In the First Reading we find the mother and seven sons who preferred death to betraying God's Law by eating swine's flesh.1 After having been tortured by the king's servants, the fourth son declared: One cannot but choose to die at the hands of men and to cherish the hope that God gives of being raised again by him.

The Old Testament speaks in a number of places of the hope of resurrection. At the time of Our Lord's life most of the Jews believed in this truth except the Sadducees, who also denied the immortality of the soul, the existence of angels and the power of divine Providence.2 In today's Gospel passage we read how some Sadducees approached Jesus with the intention of tripping him up.3 According to the Levirate law, if a man were to die without issue, then his brother would be under obligation to marry the widow and provide him with descendants.4 The Sadducees cunningly pose for Jesus a situation of this kind affecting a man with seven brothers:

In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife. By means of this far-fetched dilemma, the Sadducees attempt to ridicule the doctrine of the resurrection of the body.

Ignoring the patent absurdity of this problem Jesus goes on to reaffirm the doctrine of the resurrection of the body. He reveals to us some of the characteristics of life after death: people neither many nor are given in marriage ... because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. Jesus then argues from Sacred Scripture, using a quotation from Moses.5 In conclusion, Our Lord tells the Sadducees: Now, He is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him. Moses called the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, all of whom were long dead by that time. The message is that these patriarchs were physically dead but not spiritually dead. They lived on in God because of their immortal souls. They only awaited the resurrection of their bodies.6 The Sadducees were silenced. They no longer dared to ask him any question.

We Christians profess in the Creed our hope in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. The importance of this final article of the baptismal Creed is obvious: it expresses the goal and purpose of God's plan, the unfolding of which is described in the Creed If there is no resurrection, the whole structure of faith collapses, as St Paul states so forcefully. If the content of the words 'life everlasting' is uncertain for Christians, the promises contained in the Gospel and the meaning of creation and Redemption disappear, and even earthly life itself must be said to be deprived of all hope! We have to remind ourselves of the crucial fact that our soul is immortal, that it will be united to our physical body at the end of time, that the union of our body and soul has an eternal destiny. Everything which we undertake in this life ought to be oriented to this momentous truth: We belong to God completely, soul and body, flesh and bones, all our senses and faculties .8

1. 2 Mac 7:1-2; 9-14

2. cf J. Dheilly, Biblical Dictionary, 'Sadducees'

3. Luke 20:27-38

4. cf Deut 25:5 ff

5. Ex 3:2; 6

6. cf The Navarre Bible, note to Luke 20:27- 40

7. S.C.D.F., Letter to Bishops on Certain Questions concerning Eschatology, 17 May 1979

8. J. Escriva, Friends of God, 111

With permission from Scepter UK. Short excerpt from IN CONVERSATION WITH GOD by Francis Fernandez. Available at SinagTala or Totus Bookstore 723-4326 or at

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Last Updated on Saturday, 10 November 2007 00:31

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