Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Sermon Given by Father Pancras Sept. 22, 2019
“Young man, I say to thee, arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak” (Lk. 7: 14)
We are reminded by the miracle of today’s Gospel that death awaits us all, young as well as old, and the following upon death shall also come our resurrection, either unto glory or unto confusion. And therefore, St. Paul teaches us in today’s epistle that this present life will be the measure of our future existence; this is the seeding time, the life to come will be the harvest. As it is now in our power to control the sowing, so it is also to shape the yield. If now we choose to serve the flesh and lead a life of sin and wickedness, it is already decreed the our portion hereafter shall be among the wicked; but if, on the contrary, we here below devote our time and talents to practice of virtues, it is sure that our reward shall be life everlasting. (Gal. 6: 8)
In the Apostles’ Creed we say: “I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”
What is the meaning of this article of the Creed?
1 It means that the body which, at death, disintegrates into dust – will one day have its parts reassembled, be raised from the dead, and be reunited to its immortal soul.
2 The hope of our salvation rests on this article of the Creed. “If there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen again; and if Christ is not risen again, then is our preaching vain.” (I Cor. 15; 13, 14)
3 All shall rise again one day, both good and bad.
Proofs of the resurrection of the body
1 The Scriptures testify that the bodies shall rise again
Job says: “I know that my redeemer liveth, and in the last day I shall rise out of the earth. And I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh, I shall see my God.” (Job. 19: 25, 26)
Daniel says: “And many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake. Some unto life everlasting, and others unto reproach, to see it always.” (Dan. 12; 2)
Jesus Said: “Amen, amen I say unto you, that he who heareth my word, and believeth that sent me, hath life everlasting; and cometh not into judgment, but is passed from death to life. …. When the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” (Jn. 5: 24, 25)
Martha said to Jesus: “I know that he (Lazarus) shall rise again, in the resurrection at the last day. And Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live.” (Jn. 11: 24, 25)
St. Paul says: “If we believe that Jesus died, and rose again; even so them who have slept through Jesus, will God bring with him.” (I Thess. 4: 13)
2 This doctrine is confirmed by the examples of persons who have been raised from the dead.
Elias and Eliseus raised three persons: First – Elias raised the son of the widow of Sarephta (3 Kings 17: 26). Second – Eliseus raised the son of the Sunamitess (4 Kings 4: 34). Third – a dead man was raised to life by the touch of the bones of Eliseus (4Kings 13: 21).
Our Lord raised three persons: One of whom is mentioned in to-day’s Gospel (Lk. 7: 14). And the other two: The daughter of the ruler raised to life (Mt. 9: 25). And Jesus raises Lazarus to life (Jn. 11: 44).
St. Peter raised up to life one of his women disciples Tabitha called Dorcas in Joppe (Acts 9: 40).
St. Paul raised to life a certain young man named Eutichus, who sitting on a window being oppressed with a deep sleep while St. Paul was preaching, fell from the third floor, and was taken up dead (Acts 20: 10).
These many resurrections confirm the doctrine taught by this Article; for believing that many were recalled from death to life, we are also naturally led to believe the general resurrection of all. In fact, the principal fruit which we should derive from these miracles is to yield to this Article our most unhesitating belief.
3 This doctrine has its analogies in nature.
If it is possible for a seed to die by putrefaction and to rise again by germination, how is it not possible for a body to undergo corruption and to rise in incorruption? That is why St. Paul says: “So is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown on corruption; it shall rise in incorruption” (I Cor. 15: 42). The seed dies and comes to life again. Nature dies in winter and revives in spring, etc. St. Gregory calls our attention to many other arguments of analogy tending to the same effect. The sun, he says, is every day withdrawn from our eyes, as it were, by dying, and is again recalled, as it were, by rising again.
4 This doctrine is made likely by reason
The body and soul are natural companions. And the body is the partner in the good or bad deeds of the soul. Therefore, the resurrection of the body is necessary for man’s complete happiness in life everlasting.
5 This doctrine is opposed to cremation
Why the Catholic Church is opposed to cremation of the dead bodies – is to protest those who deny the dogma of the resurrection of the bodies.
All shall rise
Writing to the Corinthians, St. Paul says: “As in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. (I Cor. 15: 22) Good and bad then, without distinction, shall all rise from the dead, although the condition of all will not be the same. Those who have done good, shall rise to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
When we say all, we mean those who will have died before the day of judgment, as well as those who will then die. It is the teaching of St. Jerome and of St. Augustine that all, without distinction, shall die.
St. Paul the Apostle in his Epistle to the Thessalonians teaches this doctrine, when he says: The dead who are in Christ shall rise first, then we who are alive, who are left, shall be taken up together with them in the clouds to meet Christ, into the air. (I Thess. 4: 15, 16)
St. Ambrose explaining these words says: In that very taking up, death shall take place, as it were, in a deep sleep, and the soul, having gone forth from the body, shall instantly return. For those who are alive shall die when they are taken up that, coming to the Lord, they may receive their souls from His presence; because in His presence they cannot be dead. This opinion is supported by the authority of St. Augustine in his book On the City of God.”
Conclusion: All will rise again in the same body with which they served God or were slaves to the devil; that in the same body they may experience rewards and a crown of victory or endure the severest punishment and never-ending torment.
Lesson: If now we pamper our bodies, indulge them and make them instrument of sin, our resurrection will be the beginning of an unending torment. But if we here mortify the flesh and bring it to subjection to God’s law, there awaits us unfading glory for body as well as soul!