Monday, November 11, 2013

Non Sumus Angeli

32nd Sunday of OT Year C:
As most of you know, next April Pope Francis is going to canonize both John Paul II and John XXIII.  Pope John XXIII, was a very interesting man, and he had a long term impact on the Church, since it was he who decided to call the Second Vatican Council.  He also had a warm, down-to-earth sense of humor. One time a new building had to be constructed on Vatican grounds. The architect submitted the plans to His Holiness for his inspection and approval.  Shortly afterward he returned them with three Latin words written in the margin: "Non sumus angeli", that is to say "We are not angels." The architect was quite confused by this response, until he realized that the pope had spotted a flaw in his design.  He had forgotten to include bathrooms, and since we are not angels he would have to add them in.
Non sumus angeli, we are not angels.  This is quite clear to all of us, of course.  Angels are spiritual beings who do the bidding of God.  Human beings are certainly spiritual, that is we have a spiritual component, but we are also physical.  The nature of the human being is always a composite of body and soul.  It was God who designed us this way.  And behold, he said, it is very good. Sometimes e might fall into thinking that the body is bad and only the soul is good.  So, the sooner we get rid of our bodies the better.
There are many scriptural quotes that might even support this kind of thinking.  One of these quotes is found in today’s gospel.  Jesus tells us that those who are worthy of the future kingdom will be like angels.  If we take this one line out of context we can see that it might make us think that our bodies are bad and that we will not have our bodies in the future. 
But this interpretation goes against what Jesus says just a couple of lines later when he talks about the resurrection of the dead.  Every Sunday when we gather to worship we pray our creed together, and in this creed we say that we believe in the resurrection of the body.  Jesus gives us an insight into what this future might look like.  He says that we will be like the angels; so, in some ways, it will be a spiritual existence.  But, as human beings our nature will not change, we will still have our bodies.  So, we will live an existence where our bodies and our souls are perfectly united, and it will be a spiritualized kind of existence, but we will still have bodies.  What will this be like?  I have no idea.  Because of Original Sin and the falleness of our world, we often feel the tension between body and soul.  But, in the resurrection this will not be so.  On the last day Jesus Christ will raise our mortal bodies to be like his own in glory.  God made the human body, and it is very good.  Our bodies will rise again.
Every year, during the month of November, we always take time to think about those who have gone before us.  We take time to pray for our departed loved ones, friends, and family members.  But, it is also a good time for us to renew our faith and understanding in the resurrection.  Because it is the promise of resurrection that gives us hope when we ponder the loss of those we love.  We believe and profess that death is not the end, that we will see our loved ones again.  That those beautiful people that we lay to rest will get up again.  Christians do not grieve like those with no hope, for we believe that those who sleep in Christ will rise with him on the last day.

As we celebrate this Holy Eucharist we renew our faith in the Risen Christ.  We renew our belief that Jesus died, but he also rose again. We may not be angels, but we do indeed pray that through the power of the death and resurrection of Christ all those who sleep in Christ will rise with him on the last day.

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