Soul and Body – Arnel Aquino. SJ

Luke 24:35-48, Third Sunday of Easter 2015

Napansin po ba ninyo na nauso ang mga pelikula at tv show tungkol sa zombie at sa bampira? Dati-rati, uso ang multo. Pero ngayon, mas uso na yata ang zombie at bampira. Sa tv ngayon, halimbawa, limang seasons na ang The Walking Dead. Sa pelikula naman, hindi ba dati, si Dracula lang ang bampira? At pag-Dracula, horror. Iba na ngayon. Napalitan na si Dracula ng mga teen-ager na bampira na may mga love life. Kaya di lamang sila uhaw sa dugo, sila rin ay uhaw sa pag-ibig.

We’re drawn to stories like these because we are fascinated with immortality. We may not be aware of it, but whenever something about immortality brushes past our imagination, it makes us look and wonder. And you know what, sisters and brothers, immortality should make us look and wonder. Because if the Resurrection is central to our faith, then we should be fearless, even creative, in imagining what our resurrection is like—what it’s like to die once, then be raised by God, and then to never die again, ever.

Now, incidentally, there’s a bit of a mistranslation in the Tagalog version of the Apostles’ Creed. (By the way, I personally like the Apostles’ Creed more because it’s older than the Nicene Creed.) Anyway, that part where we say, “Sumasampalataya ako…sa pagkabuhay na muli ng nangamatay na tao.” That’s not quite how the Apostles’ Creed puts it where it says: “I believe…in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.” To be faithful to the original, the Tagalog must say, “Sumasampalataya ako sa pagkabuhay na muli ng katawan.”

Now I wanted to call your attention to that because most of us, Catholics, we take it for granted that life everlasting refers only to the soul. It’s easier to imagine that the body dies but the soul keeps on living, right? That the soul is saved, that the soul goes to heaven, that the soul lives forever. But in our creed, life everlasting refers not just to the soul, but also to the body. I know it’s difficult to envision it, but that’s what we say we believe: God will raise from the dead our body, that life everlasting is not just spiritual. It is also bodily.

Is the resurrection of the body in the bible? And can we use it to envision our resurrection? Yes it is, and yes, we can. God raised the whole person of Jesus, not just his spirit. Remember what the Risen Lord did and said as he appeared to his friends: “Look at my hands and my feet (which we’re told still bore nail wounds)…touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” I suppose the apostles were still incredulous at that point—so Jesus pushed the envelope and said, “May makakain ba kayo d’yan? Penge.” So they brought him inihaw na isda (tilapia?) “and he ate it in front of them,” the gospel says. Jesus cannot be any more bodily than that—than having wounds that he asked his friends to examine, and asking for food, and eating!

Now, this bodily appearance that the Lord made on the first Easter, this tells us two very important things: one, that he resurrected body and soul, and two, that our resurrection will be like his. Our immortality is designed according to the Lord’s resurrection. So, the Lord’s immortality is both proof and pattern for ours. Our resurrection be both spiritual and bodily. And we often miss that, don’t we? Hindi natin ubos-maisip na ang muling pagkabuhay natin ay kasama ang ating katawan, at hindi lang ang kaluluwa.

Well, one reason why I think we stop short at envisioning immortality as bodily, is this: that whenever we think of “body”, especially in religious topics, the word “flesh”, “laman” sets off sirens like a fire alarm. When the “flesh” alarm goes off, right away, we think about sin; sins of the flesh, we often say, “carnal desire” (karne), “sensuality”, “ “guilty pleasures”, “self-gratification”. So, no sooner do we talk about the body in religion than we’re running to the nearest exit that says: “This way to the safety. This way to the soul.” While the “flesh” alarm blares in our heads, then never mind the body. The body we can leave behind to burn.

Well, no. Since God created us, soul and body, God will save us, soul and body just like he raised his Son from the dead, soul and body. And that was exactly what the eye-witnesses experience: they saw the Lord, and touched the Lord, and even fed the Lord. In our resurrection therefore, we can dare look forward to seeing each other, and touching one another, and embracing , and singing, and dancing, and enjoying meals again with one another, no, not just spiritually, but bodily. One thing will be entirely different though: our glorified bodies will no longer be victims to pain, to sickness, to heart-brokenness, or to death. Soul and body, we will be immortal like the Lord.

So anong kinalaman ng resurrection of the body sa kung paano tayo namumuhay ngayon? That can be the subject of another homily since we don’t have too much time right now. But allow me to leave you with this thought. I cannot find any deeper reason why God would raise our bodies from the dead other than love. God created us body and soul out of love. It must be for this very same reason why God would raise us body and soul—because he loves us whole and entire, exactly as he created us. God loves our souls, yes. But God loves our bodies, too. Unfortunately, we tend to think that the deepest love is only and absolutely “spiritual”. We often think that love reaches its deepest sense only and absolutely when it’s all about the soul. That for me is one of the saddest, most tragic, and self-serving copout of all.Soul

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