Eucharistic Discipleship: Receiving Healing, Part II
Writing about the practice of eucharistic discipleship that leads to full, conscious, and active participation in the Mass, I introduced the subject of healing. Often we need healing before we are capable of really entering into the Mass the way we should. To understand the healing we need now, we need to see our actual situation in light of Jesus’ whole work of healing.
We speak of Jesus as our Savior who accomplishes the work of our salvation, but we could also speak of Jesus as our Doctor or Physician who brings to us true healing.
Once when I was anointing a dying woman I told her that there was only one cure for her disease, but I assured her that there was indeed a cure, it is called the resurrection of the body. That is the final and complete healing that Jesus wants to achieve in us.
The saints in heaven, apart from the Blessed Virgin Mary and maybe a few others, even though they are blessed with the vision of God, have not yet been healed of the wound of death. God alone is enough for them, but in a way the do not yet enjoy God fully, because they are not fully there to enjoy him.
In this life the body is often a weight upon the soul (cf. Wis 9:15); we find ourselves unable to pray as we would like or to direct ourselves to God as we would like because of the burden of physical weakness and the necessities of life.
The souls of the blessed in heaven no longer have this impediment, but they are not whole because our body is very much a part of our identity, of who we are. When Jesus comes to raise the dead to life, and the blessed are rejoined to their bodies, the body will no longer be an impediment, but will share in the life, the joy, and the glory of the blessed soul.
We can scarcely imagine what this will be like, but based on the example of Jesus’ resurrection and the teaching of St. Paul (cf. 1 Cor 15:42-44) our tradition has spoken of four characteristics of the resurrected body.
It will be immortal and incorruptible, having no need of nourishment, incapable of being wounded, and subject neither to sickness nor death.
It will be glorious, beautiful, and filled with radiant divine light after the example of Jesus’ in his Transfiguration.
It will possess an agility that will enable to it to move, we could say, with the speed of thought. That is why in his resurrection appearances Jesus could so readily appear now in one place, then in another.
While remaining a true body it will be so ‘spiritualized’ that it will be able to pass through all obstacles, just as Jesus entered the room where the disciples were hidden behind locked doors.
All these characteristics of the resurrected body will be manifestations of the life and joy of the blessed soul, united interiorly to God. As the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven from God, so the life that is in God passes into the blessed soul, and from the blessed soul into the resurrected body. (cf. Rev 21:2) As the soul in heaven becomes transparent to God, the body becomes transparent to the soul. God becomes all in all. (cf. 1 Cor 15:28)
What will heaven be like? We can think of ‘peak moments’ of all kinds: peak moments of prayer, in which we experience the strongest connection to God; peak moments mentally in which everything seems transparent to our mind and our will possesses the strength to do what needs to be done; peak moments in relationship to others, when everything just clicks together with those around us; peak moments in the body, such as a champion athlete experiences when he is in his best form. In this life those ‘peak moments’ pass quickly and not only do they not coincide, they often fight against each other. In heaven, after the resurrection of the body, it will be like all of those peak moments, taken to the maximum, beyond anything possible in this life, experienced at once, in perfect harmony, without having them pass away, fade, or diminish in any way. This is our inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, that is kept in heaven for us. (cf. 1 Pe 1:4)
This is the final healing that God has in store for those who believe in Jesus Christ and follow him faithfully to the end. This is the ultimate meaning of all the physical healings that Jesus worked during his earthly life, in which he made men to be whole is some way during this life as a sign of the perfect wholeness promised to us in the world to come.
This is the reality that has already come to pass in Jesus Christ, seated in glory at the right hand of his heavenly Father, and in the blessed Virgin Mary, assumed into heaven body and soul, and perhaps also in some others saints, such as St. Joseph, the Spouse of the Virgin Mary.
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