On What Level Do You Live?
September 17, 2016 Saturday Twenty-Fourth Week of Year II
1Corinthians 15:35-49 tells us four characteristics of the body that change with resurrection:
- Perishable. Our body was not built to last forever; the risen body is.
- Ignoble. We see certain functions of the body as less dignified or ugly. Or we can see the body (“flesh”) as the link through which we are infected by “cultural conditioning.” The risen body will be “glorious,” free of all this.
- Weak. In this life our intellects depend on a material brain, our wills on what the intellect presents for choice. The risen body, by sharing God’s life, escapes this limitation. Our minds know all truth as God does, instead of breaking it down into the “still shots” (concepts) we call “thoughts.” Our wills respond to all good like God, in one all-inclusive act of love.
- Natural or physical. Paul uses soma psychikon for the “earthly” or “physical” body that can receive life because it has the “psyche” (“soul” or “form”) that constitutes its structure or organization to function in the way that is the proper “end” of human “nature” (physis). If that structure breaks down, which causes death, the body loses its natural “form” or “soul” (psyche) and can no longer live or exist as human. Paul contrasts this with the soma pneumatikon, the “spiritual” risen body which is receiving existence no longer to function only in the human ways to which it is ordered by its psyche or “form,” but to function in the divine ways proper to the life of God himself. The risen body shares in God's life through the “Spirit” given in grace. This explains all the differences listed above.
We have this life already “in Christ.” We were “buried with him by Baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead… we too might walk in newness of life.” God gave “the first man, Adam, a living soul (animam viventem, ψυχην ζωσαν).” He gave the “last Adam a life-giving spirit (spiritum vivificantem, πνευμα ζωοποιουν).” Our call is to live now, alive in Christ, as his risen body on earth.
Paul says the body is “sown a natural body [and] raised a spiritual body.” In Luke 8:4-15 Jesus compares his words to seed that is sown: seed with power to give divine life. But the divine result depends on the stewardship of human receptivity and cooperation. If we identify as citizens of this world with those who follow the “beaten path” of culture instead of with Jesus as Christians, it makes us impervious to Christ’s ideas; if we never let them “take root” in us through reflection as disciples.
If we refuse to “weed out” conflicting attitudes and values by radical, “prophetic” changes in our lifestyle, and do not provide the “good ground” of an environment that nurtures the seeds by giving mutual expression to our faith, hope and love in a “priestly” community, the seeds will wither. Our call and consecration as “stewards of the kingship of Christ” is to take responsibility for fostering all of the above in ourselves and others while working for changes in society that make this world receptive to God’s word and reign.
Initiative: Be a steward of his kingship. Build a world receptive to grace.