Why Do Our Bodies Need Resurrection?
In the Creed we say we believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. I believe this, but I sometimes wonder if I am being silly in asking why we will need our bodies again when we enter heaven. If the souls in heaven are with God, what is the point of being reunited with their bodies when it seems they are already blissfully happy without them? A soul waiting for the resurrection to be reunited with the body seems an impatient and unhappy soul to me? Religious Sister
You are not being silly. Theological guesswork has raked over the same question for many years.
Some speculators have argued that, because there is no time in heaven, the souls there do not experience any sense of impatience. They do not wait at all, because they are instantly geared and ready for reunion with the body in a flash.
Jesus redeemed human beings who are made up of body and soul in an inseparable oneness. He did not redeem souls only. Even when the soul is separated from earthly matter in death, it retains a link with its body because human beings were not created pure spirits like the angels. We are of this earth in life and death.
In the Creed we affirm that Jesus Christ will return in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. The souls in heaven are not just waiting for the resurrection. They are waiting for the kingdom of God to be set up forever under Christ the King.
This implies that the living and the dead will possess risen bodies that have been transformed. They will not simply be the same flesh and blood they once were. St Paul puts it this way: The Lord Jesus Christ “will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorious body. He will do that by the same power with which he can subdue the whole universe” (Phil 3:21).
Some theologians have objected that to say we will have a completely new body contradicts the continuity of our being one person. Others respond that the individual identity of each one of us ensures our continuity as one person.
As copies of Christ’s glorious body, our risen bodies will participate in that infinite love which vivifies the Holy Trinity, and we shall be truly one together.
The resurrection of the dead on the last day is not the last word. The whole of creation will also be renewed, as Scripture assures us (Isaiah 66:22 and Romans 8:18, for instance).
Christ’s bodily resurrection is our assurance that we are on the right track. We hope for salvation not just for our soul but for our person, body and soul, modelled on Jesus Christ and alive forever with him in a fresh and new universe.