What will the Resurrected Life be like, according to Scripture?

Presented to: St. Thomas the Apostle

For: 2017 Lenten Series: The Ten Minute Catechism

Topic: On the Resurrection of the Dead

 

Scripture on the Resurrection[1]

When it comes to the topic of the resurrection and the resurrected life – life in heaven – we all share the same amount of experience regarding it: absolutely zero!!!…   So, given our ignorance, where can we turn for an accurate account that can lead us to clues as to what the resurrected life is like? There is only one source that I’m aware, and it is Scripture! Let us turn to the Gospel readings for (2017) for guidance, as we try to list five keys explaining what life in heaven will be like.

No. 1     2nd Week of Easter: Divine Mercy Sunday – Gospel Jn 20:109-31: the risen Christ meets the apostles in the upper room and gives them his Divine Peace…

Peace – This is the 1rst fndatin of RL… reflect on the moment in your life when you’ve experienced real peace… Perhaps moments with your family or children… Moments with significant others on vacation away from it all… Perhaps it’s that uncommon moment on a spring walk or the peace that you unexpectedly finding a hectic day when you slow down to pray…

… These are all very real moments, but are only moment or tastes – that reflect THAT ETERNAL and everlasting peace that passes all understanding… that Peace we are promised in the resurrected life in heaven.

No. 2 and 3. In that same Gospel when Jesus appeared, Thomas was initially absent… …the Gospel famously concludes with Jesus asking him to place his fingers in His holy wounds… …this points us to the 2nd key aspect of the Resurrected Life: Certainty – absolute and beyond all doubt!!! In heaven, we will have absolute certainty about those life ‘fundamentals’ that like truth, love, etc… In life, our best instances of certainty are like those of our greatest and deepest experiences of peace – but mere moments and partial reflections of that pure, absolute and never ending certainty we will experience in heaven…

Love – this is the third key I’m listing but it actually can be stated as the first of them all! Love is the core of God’s Kingdom and the Resurrected Life; this teaching can be found throughout Jesus’ teachings about the Kingdom of God before his death and resurrection. It is also manifested as the core of the Risen Lord in the Resurrection accounts of the Gospels.

The reality of Divine Certainty of God’s Peace & Everlasting Love forever – is simply humanly unfathomable…   We only experience glimpses or reflections of the realities now on earth, but these moments can, if held and experienced with a grateful and prayerful heart, lead us to the truth about eternal life.

Please note how each one of these key aspects of the Resurrected Life (Peace, Certainty and Love) are rooted in what we discussed last week Ten Minute Catechism: God’s Presence! In God’s heavenly Presence, there will no longer be any need for faith or for hope, because our greatest faith and hope will be eternally realized. Only love remains…    The pure and holy love of God – which will light both God’s Kingdom and the hearts of its inhabitants…

In Week 3 of Easter, in the Road to Emmaus from Luke’s Gospel (Lk 24:13-35), Jesus reveals who will be in the Kingdom Resurrected Life: those who do not flee from their fears or their crosses, but who, through communion with the Risen Christ finds the grace and strength to turn around, and to return to Jerusalem and Calvary…

Those who choose to pick up their crosses… Those who choose to be Simon of Cyrenes for others, by willfully carrying the crosses of others that have been placed on them, especially those who have fallen down like Jesus, after he fell for the third time, completely exhausted and was unable to continue carrying the wood of our salvation 3rd time…

No. 4 and 5.     All of the Resurrection narratives point to two final key Roman Catholic beliefs about the Resurrected Life: a). the actual physicality of the Resurrected Life and b). the community dimensions of the Resurrected Life. Regarding the physicality of it, examine how Jesus asked Doubting Thomas to “stick his hands into the nail and lance wounds that He received during the crucifixtion. Find the Gospel story where the Risen Christ eats fish with the eleven Apostles, etc. These stories are presented for a reason: if the Risen Christ was just a vision, it have been a false apparition by one of Satan’s demons, etc. By resurrecting in His same body, Jesus seals and confirms both the scriptural teaching that the human being is an integrated and living spirit within living flesh, who will rise in the same manner on the last day. Finally, the resurrected life is not an individual experience of ourselves eternally in ecstacy, gazing in awe of God. It is a community experience of the saved who are praising, serving and fellowshipping with God and each other in perfect harmony.

A Quick Summary to the Resurrected Life –

It is a state in which the saved will experience absolute and everlasting…

Peace, Certainty and Love, which are all grounded in God’s Presence

 

It is a perfected physical/spiritual state where we live in a holy community with the Eternal and   living God.

 

[1] I am using the Gospels from the second, third and forth weeks of the 2017 Easter Season Readings as my scriptural basis for this reflection.

Author: P. J. West, Jr.

Paul J. West Jr. is a cradle Catholic and native Chicagoan who has ministered in Catholic Schools, parishes and hospitals for over two decades. His current ministries are focused on both hospital chaplaincy and writing. Prior to this, he ministered as an educator for almost twenty five years teaching religion, scripture, philosophy and ethics at four Chicago area high schools and adults at the Chicago Catholic Scripture School. His parish ministry has included preaching, teaching, writing and serving as a Eucharistic minister. Mr. West, who is native south sider, has been married for almost 30 years to Dr. Joy West. They have raised four beautiful daughters who are all hardcore Bears and White Sox fans!!!!

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