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Do YOU REALLY Believe in the Resurrection of the Body and the Life of the World to Come?

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Lifted above the earth, Jesus Christ drew all things to himself. Rising from the dead, he sent his life-giving Spirit upon his disciples, and through the Spirit established his Body, which is the Church, as the universal sacrament of salvation.

Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord. His salvation is offered extended to all men and women. That salvation is not only about our souls, but about the whole human person. It will only be complete when we are raised from the dead and dwell in the kingdom to come. He inaugurated that kingdom - but its fullness has not yet come. In the ancient creed of the Council of Nicea we profess that we "look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come." We pray that creed every Sunday. As Christians, we profess belief in the coming of a new heaven and a new earth. In other words, we will not be souls floating around somewhere for eternity. We will be raised from the dead. We will be transformed by the power of God and live in the world to come.  Do we long for it and hasten its coming by living differently?

Seated at the right hand of the Father, Jesus works unceasingly in the world, to draw men into the Church and through that Church to join them more closely to himself.

Seated at the right hand of the Father, Jesus works unceasingly in the world, to draw men into the Church and through that Church to join them more closely to himself.

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord. His salvation is offered  to all men and women. That salvation is not only about our souls, but about the whole human person. The work of our redemption will only be complete when we are raised from the dead and dwell in the kingdom to come. He inaugurated that kingdom - but its fullness has not yet come.

In the ancient creed of the Council of Nicea we profess that we "look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come." We pray that creed every Sunday. Do we really believe what we pray?

As Christians, we profess belief in in the coming of a new heaven and a new earth. In other words, we will not be souls floating around somewhere for eternity. We will be raised from the dead. We will be transformed by the power of God and live in the world to come.  Do we long for it and hasten its coming by living differently?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, citing the teaching of the Bible - and the unbroken Christian tradition - explains it beautifully. But, there is a problem. Many Catholic Christians have not read the Catechism sections. We often think of heaven in a very different way.

I offer several of the paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church below (CCC #1042-1046), with the biblical and church document references included in the text for further study:

"At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. After the universal judgment, the righteous will reign forever with Christ, glorified in body and soul. The universe itself will be renewed:

"The Church . . . will receive her perfection only in the glory of heaven, when will come the time of the renewal of all things. At that time, together with the human race, the universe itself, which is so closely related to man and which attains its destiny through him, will be perfectly re-established in Christ. (LG 48; Cf. Acts 3:21; Eph 1:10; Col 1:20; 2 Pet 3:10-13.)

"Sacred Scripture calls this mysterious renewal, which will transform humanity and the world, "new heavens and a new earth."( 2 Pet 3:13; Cf. Rev 21:1)  It will be the definitive realization of God's plan to bring under a single head "all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth." (Eph 1:10)

"In this new universe, the heavenly Jerusalem, God will have his dwelling among men. (Cf. Rev 21:5)


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"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away." (Rev 21:4)

"For man, this consummation will be the final realization of the unity of the human race, which God willed from creation and of which the pilgrim Church has been "in the nature of sacrament."( Cf. Lumen Gentium 1)

"Those who are united with Christ will form the community of the redeemed, "the holy city" of God, "the Bride, the wife of the Lamb." (Rev 21:2,9)

"She will not be wounded any longer by sin, stains, self-love, that destroy or wound the earthly community. (Cf. Rev 21:27) The beatific vision, in which God opens himself in an inexhaustible way to the elect, will be the ever-flowing well-spring of happiness, peace, and mutual communion.

"For the cosmos, Revelation affirms the profound common destiny of the material world and man:

"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God . . . in hope because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay. . . . We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Rom 8:19-23)

"The visible universe, then, is itself destined to be transformed, "so that the world itself, restored to its original state, facing no further obstacles, should be at the service of the just," sharing their glorification in the risen Jesus Christ. (St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 5,32,1:PG 7/2,210.)

(See, Catechism of the Catholic Church #1042-1046)

WOW! That may be a lot different than what we may have heard about heaven - or thought about heaven. However, that is biblical, classical, Christian teaching. We will be raised from the dead - bodily. We will spend eternity in a new heaven and new earth.

In all the years I have been involved in Christian ministry, as both a layman and a member of the Clergy, I have found that very few Catholics, or Christians of other communities, actually "believe" this.

By belief - I am referring to the kind of deep conviction which changes one's life, informs one's choices and orients ones behavior in the real stuff of daily life.

Christianity is not about me and Jesus, but about me in Jesus, joined with others who are joined to Him and called into the world to continue His ongoing mission. The communion of love which we call heaven, in a certain sense, begins even now as follow the Lord and live in His Body, the Church.

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The Church is God's plan. The Church is a seed of the kingdom to come. (CCC #764) The early Fathers of the Church called the Church the world reconciled and the world in the course of transfiguration. Through Baptism, we were born into a new relational reality; we now live in the Lord. 

The Church is not some-thing but Some-One. We are called to live in Jesus Christ, by living in the heart of His Body, the Church, for the sake of the world which He loves.  Jesus established His Church - and through it He continues His work in the world until His return.

The Church exists to evangelize, to spread the Gospel of salvation in and through Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. The essential nature of the Christian Church is missionary.

In an age which seems to be enamored with talk about rights, the Catholic Church has always taught that every single human being on the face of the earth has a right to hear the liberating Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

That task, of proclaiming that Gospel and making its truth real by our lifestyle engages you and me, no matter what our state in life, or specific vocation. We are invited by the Holy Spirit to rise to the call to spread the Good News - in word and deed - in this Third Millennium of Christianity. 

The Church is the Ark, the boat, presided over by the Lord. He is at the helm, steering His redemptive course through time. The Lord of the harvest is calling workers for a new missionary age. Will we respond to that call?

The Lord is sending us out on mission because he loves all men and women and wants them in this eternal kingdom which is to come. He will work in and through us, because we are members of His Mystical Body, the Church. He is the Head.

In the Catechism, reference is made to a profound teaching document of the Catholic Church from the last ecumenical council. It is entitled, in Latin, Lumen Gentium (Light of the Nations), and is formally referred to as the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.

It sets forth the teaching of Vatican Council II on the nature and mission of the whole Church. In the Office of Readings for Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent, a beautiful excerpt from that document is offered. I will conclude by sharing it with my readers:

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The eschatological character of the pilgrim Church

The Church, to which we are all called in Christ Jesus and in which we acquire holiness through the grace of God, will reach its perfection only in the glory of heaven, when the time comes for the renewal of all things, and the whole world, which is intimately bound up with man and reaches its perfection through him, will, along with the human race, be perfectly restored in Christ.

Lifted above the earth, Christ drew all things to himself. Rising from the dead, he sent his life-giving Spirit upon his disciples, and through the Spirit established his Body, which is the Church, as the universal sacrament of salvation.

Seated at the right hand of the Father, he works unceasingly in the world, to draw men into the Church and through it to join them more closely to himself, nourishing them with his own body and blood, and so making them share in his life of glory.
 
The promised renewal that we look for has already begun in Christ. It is continued in the mission of the Holy Spirit.

Through the Spirit, it goes on developing in the Church: there we are taught by faith about the meaning also of our life on earth as we bring to fulfillment - with hope in the blessings that are to come - the work that has been entrusted to us in the world by the Father, and so work out our salvation.
 
The end of the ages is already with us. The renewal of the world has been established, and cannot be revoked. In our era it is in a true sense anticipated: the Church on earth is already sealed by genuine, if imperfect, holiness.

Yet, until a new heaven and a new earth are built as the dwelling place of justice, the pilgrim Church, in its sacraments and institutions belonging to this world of time, bears the likeness of this passing world. It lives in the midst of a creation still groaning and in travail as it waits for the sons of God to be revealed in glory.

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Deacon Keith A. Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and seven grandchildren, He is a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate who served as the first and founding Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice in the nineteen nineties.

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