The Resurrection of the Body vs Transexualism
“That the dead will rise, even Moses made (that) known in the passage about the bush, …”
Since he was a boy, the painter Henri Matisse would visit the great Pierre-Auguste Renoir every week, taking in everything he could from the great master. When Renoir contracted arthritis, Matisse began to come every day to bring food, brushes and paint, and anything else Renoir needed
One day, Matisse watched as Renoir groaned in pain while making a simple but exact brush stroke. Finally, the young would-be artist could no longer stand watching his mentor suffer.
“Master,” Matisse asked, “your work is already vast and important. Why keep torturing yourself like this?”
“Very simple,” Renoir answered. “The pain passes; but the beauty remains.”
In St. Luke’s Gospel today, we hear Jesus referring to the controversial 11th article of our Catholic Faith, the resurrection of the body, at the end of time, on the last day, at the general judgment, which although we say every time we pray the Apostle’s Creed, there nevertheless remains considerable confusion. From the very beginning, Christian Faith in the resurrection of our individual mortal bodies has been met with misunderstanding and opposition. And on no point in particular does the Christian faith encounter more opposition than on the resurrection of our individual mortal bodies at the end of time, on the last day at the general judgment. It’s a very commonly accepted belief that the life of the human person continues in a spiritual fashion after death. But how can we believe that this body, so clearly mortal, could also rise to everlasting life?
In today’s Gospel, we hear of a group of Jews called the Sadducees, who appeared on the scene only after the delegates of the Sanhedrin had been silenced by Jesus. The Pharisees and Sadducees are often mentioned together, but their beliefs were worlds apart.
The Pharisees were an entirely religious body with no political ambitions, as long as the governing body allowed them to carry out their ceremonial law. The Sadducees, on the other hand, were wealthy, aristocratic collaborators, and who were more concerned with their political status, comfort, and wealth. The Pharisees accepted all of the scriptures – written and oral, plus the extremely detailed ceremonial and Mosaic Law. The Sadducees accepted only the written law of the Old Testament and not the prophets or any oral laws. The Pharisees believed in divine providence, the Sadducees did not – they believed in unrestricted free-will – in other words, do what you want, when you want to. The Pharisees believed in and hoped for the Messiah. The Sadducees did not because the messiah would have disturbed their carefully ordered lives.
But most importantly, the Pharisees believed in the Resurrection of the dead, and in angels and spirits. The Sadducees did not! They declared they could not believe in it because there was no information about it, still less any proof of it, in the books of the law which Moses was held to have written.
Up until that time, no Rabbi had been able to successfully argue with the Sadducees on that ground. But Jesus did. He pointed out that Moses himself had heard God say, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” and that it was impossible that God should be the God of the dead or of the non-existent.. Therefore, there was such thing as the resurrection of the dead. No wonder the Scribes, who were listening nearby declared it to be a good answer, for Jesus had been the first to meet the Sadducees on their own ground and defeat them.
While it took many centuries to arrive explicitly at the belief in the resurrection of the body, the Old Testament anticipated the New Testament faith in the bodily resurrection in statements about God’s great power over life and death.
In today’s first reading, the Maccabean martyrs give a greater degree of explicitness to this article of our faith when they confessed that “The King of the Universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for His laws. 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.”
St. Paul also reveals aspects of this article of our Faith in several of his letters. He asserts in his first letter to the Corinthians (cf. 1 COR 15:12-19, 35), that “if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching and your faith is in vain. But the fact remains that Christ has been (bodily) raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
St. Paul continues his first letter to the Corinthians (cf 1 COR 15:50-53) regarding the resurrection of the body event, when he writes; Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality.”
And St. Paul also asserts, in Romans (cf ROM 8:11) and other letters, that “if the (Holy) Spirit of the Father who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in your souls, then the Father who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through His (Holy) Spirit who also dwells in your souls.”
Now, the term body, in this context refers not to a group of spirits or a collection of some sort of non-corporeal beings, but rather to the individual body of each and every person. St. Paul, again in his letter to the Romans (cf. 1 COR 15:36-49), writes that “the resurrection of the body means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but even our “mortal body” will come to life again.”
St. Paul adds, from his letter to the Phillipians (cf PHIL 3:20-21), “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with His (own) glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to Himself.
In death, the separation of the soul from the body, the human body decays, but the soul immediately goes to meet God, while awaiting its reunion with its glorified body at the end of time. God, in His almighty power, will definitely grant incorruptible life to our mortal bodies by reuniting them with our souls, through the power of Jesus’ resurrection. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the union of body and soul is so profound, that the soul is in an unnatural state when it is separated from the body at death (even if the soul is in heaven or hell), because the human body shares in the dignity of the image of God, and is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Man may not despise his bodily life, because in man, there are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature. Man is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day. The reuniting of our bodies with our souls occurs after death, because of our sins. Our bodies must undergo decay and corruption before we receive them back again on the last day, but in a glorified manner. The Blessed Virgin Mary, the only created person, who never experienced a separation of body and soul, because she was the Immaculate Conception, and never sinned, was assumed soul and body into heaven immediately at the end of her earthly life. Thus, she is also the rest of mankind’s great hope, model and consolation in the resurrection of the body.
Jesus Christ, God and man, was the first raised with His own body. But He did not return to an earthly life. According to the fourth Lateran Council, an ecumenical Church council in the 13th century authoritatively states and formally and officially defined that, “all of us will rise again with their own body to be like His glorified body, and into a spiritual body.”
Jesus Christ Himself even implies this when He says in St. Matthew’s Gospel (MT 10:28) that there will be physical bodies in eternity; Our Lord says, “And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.”
And according to the Gospel accounts of Our Lord’s action and appearances after His Resurrection, but before His Ascension into heaven, and the teaching of St. Paul, our risen, glorified or spiritual bodies will have four special qualities, similar to Our Lord’s, which our mortal bodies do not presently possess; first, they will be incapable of corruption or of any suffering; second, they will shine with glorious beauty because they will be without spot or blemish, third, they will have the power of transporting themselves in an instant from one distant place to another at the speed of a thought, and lastly, they will be spiritualized and capable of penetrating any material substance. (Our bodies will be similar to that which Christ revealed to us in His glorified body between the Resurrection and the Ascension.)
My brothers and sisters in Christ, you’re probably saying to yourself, “This is all fine and dandy, father, but how does this apply to real life?’
Well, in the first place, the doctrine of the resurrection of the body is predicated on the belief in the natural unity of body and soul, whose dignity rests in that it is made in the image of God, and which is a temple of the Holy Spirit.
When the doctrine of the resurrection of the body is rejected or not understood in its proper context, then this opens the door to a heresy called “dualism” which is the theory that the mental and the physical — or mind and body or mind and brain — are, in some sense, radically different kinds of thing. In other word, not a unity! This argument erroneously suggests that if it’s imaginable that one’s mind might exist without one’s body, then, it’s conceivable and possible that one’s mind might not only exist without one’s body: but therefore, one’s mind is a completely different entity altogether from one’s body.
This erroneous belief opens the door to transsexualism and in turn gives impetus to the transgender movement, which is the belief that the brain and body will sexually differentiate in different directions, meaning you may have the neurology of a woman but the anatomy of a man, or vice versus (in other words, God must have made a mistake). Applied to the human person, this view entails that the material or bodily is inferior — if not a prison to escape, and certainly a mere instrument to be manipulated to serve the goals of the “person.”
This, of course contradicts Sacred Scripture! St. Paul clearly states in 1 Cor 3:16-17, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.“
The great artist Renoir states it well – “The pain passes; but the beauty remains.” Exactly how the resurrection of the body on the last day takes place, exceeds our imagination and understanding. It’s accessible only by divinely revealed faith. Yet our participation in the Eucharist, in just a few minutes, already gives us a foretaste of Christ’s transfiguration of our mortal bodies. Just as bread which comes from earth, is transformed into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, after the words of consecration, so too will our earthly bodies, which partake of the Eucharist and become part of the glorified Jesus in heaven, be transformed on the last day by the power of the Holy Spirit into glorified bodies for life everlasting and eternal happiness beyond our wildest imagination and understanding.
Mary, Queen assumed Body and Soul into Heaven, pray for us!