7th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C (2022): 1 Cor 15:45-49
Sunday, February 20, 2022
Homily Notes for the 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C (2022): 1 Cor 15:45-49
· Today’s gospel cries out loud and clear to the trials of our times! To forgive those who hate you, to turn the other cheek, to love your enemies, to withhold judgement, to abide in mercy, to avoid condemning others’ actions, an entire month if not years of homilies could be dedicated to unpacking these teachings from Our Lord’s Sermon on the Plain.
· But during my prayer in preparing for this Sunday’s homily, I was pulled away from the Gospel and all the important things this reading is speaking to our world today, and drawn to St. Paul’s mysterious letter to the Corinthians where he is trying to explain the Resurrection of the Dead by noting that the first human, Adam, and all humans since, have both a physical body and an immortal soul.
· We know the body will die and turn to dust and the spirit will live on into eternity in everlasting fire or eternal bliss, but where does our resurrection fit into the experience of confronting the end of our mortal lives? Does it really matter what happens to our mortal remains after we die since it not what is most important is the hope of being with God in heaven?
· St. Paul taught repeatedly that belief in the resurrection, not only of Jesus, but eventually of all humanity and all creation at the end of time, was incredibly important and to deny that we will rise again with the body we had in this life would be a denial of the truth of Easter Sunday.
· Perhaps it is not all that surprising than that from the earliest days of Christianity there would arise heretical groups among the Christians that would deny the Resurrection and cause great confusion among those who we seeking to follow Christ.
· Among the first such groups that emerged in the 2nd century AD were one known as the Gnostics. One of their core beliefs was that the material world, everything you could sense, was inherently evil and the purpose of life was to escape this mortal body and the material world so that you would dwell in the purely spiritual realm of heaven.
· The other characteristics of the Gnostics was that they were elitist, wanting to keep their knowledge and teachings secret from others because they saw themselves as superior to others. They also had great suspicions of authority, especially Church leaders, and continually rejected their authority to support their own beliefs whenever they were opposed.
· Not surprisingly they thought little of the importance of resurrection since the whole point of existence for them was to escape the body and never again have to be reunited with it, contrary to what St. Paul taught on many occasions will happen when all would rise again on the last day.
· I mention the Gnostics of old because it many ways a new Gnosticism is alive in the world that also has suspicion of the value of the material world in terms how God created things. Gnostic thought sees material reality as fluid and ever changeable, and often distains the way the things are and so seeks new ways to change what is unappealing while disregarding the rationale for what God created as He did. Gnostic thought today also has a distrust of authority, notably in the Church, due to a sense of having secret knowledge into how things are based on what one reads and researches the pressing matters of our time and in general sees that they know more than what the masses, the sheep, are unable to perceive.
· But specifically, where I think gnostic thought has entered into the hearts of many Christians is that many no longer believe we will actually rise from the dead at the end of time.
· One needs to just watch the many series dedicated to zombie apocalypses to see that rising from the dead is a seen as something terrifying in today’s culture. Resurrection is now seen as the reanimation of rotting corpses who seek to devour the living and no longer the glorious vision presented by Jesus in his resurrected body as a body being totally freed from all pain, sickness and decay, a body no longer confined the physical laws of this reality, a body that cannot die, a body that Adam was supposed to have, but lost, but has been restored in Christ and promised to all who believe in him on the last day.
· With Lent and the Holy Week of our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection approaching, it is an important time for us to confront the question of whether or not we really believe we will rise from the dead? There is something in particular I think each of us can consider this Lent, that is, where do we plan to be buried when we die? A bit macabre, but Christian burial is one of those important signs in the world today, with many confused by gnostic thought around us, that we believe in the resurrection.
· Bodily burial in the ground or a mausoleum and interment of cremated remains in the ground or columbarium are signs to the world that we place the mortal remains of the faithful departed because we believe in a mysterious and wonderous way these remains will rise again and be reunited to the immortal souls that reside in heaven or hell. No zombie apocalypse but also no return of our soul to the body as it was in this life. Instead, at the resurrection, you will receive your body once again but changed, transformed, glorified, perfected of imperfections but uniquely you. To visit these burial sites then is not only the chance for us to remember our loved ones and to pray for them, but it is also a reminder to us that we have hope that they will rise again.
· “Just has we have borne the image of the one of dust, we will also bear the image of the one of heaven.” Just as Jesus and His Holy Mother now exist in paradise with both their body and soul, the entirety of their person, so too will we one day.