•2 Maccabees 7: 1-2, 9-14 • 2 Thessalonians 2:16 – 3:5 • Luke 20: 27-38•
What do you think happens to an individual when s/he dies? How many of you believe in the concept or theory of “the immortality of the soul?” In the Nicene Creed we state our belief in “The Communion of Saints.” Do you know what that is?
Last Thursday, many folks in Missoula turned out for a parade celebrating the Festival of the Dead. Few celebrated the feast of All Saints on November 1.
My grandparents and parents certainly did. They took “the immortality of the soul” for granted. When I was young I also took it for granted and worried about “saving my soul.”
Greek philosophers, especially Plato, developed the theory of “the immortality of the soul.” It is obvious that the body is mortal and is subject to physical death. The Greeks theorized that the soul must be its indestructible opposite — therefore immortal.
It is amazing that the fifth century Greek philosophers still continue to influence our thinking about such matters. Our faith heritage is not rooted in Greek philosophy. Jesus was not Greek but Jewish. That is our faith heritage.
One hundred years before Jesus lived in Palestine, the Maccabees – seven brothers and their mother died professing their faith in that Gracious Mystery we name God. They were confident they would experience resurrection life with God forever. Such faith also motivated Jesus.
The Pharisees were peers of Jesus. They believed in some form of bodily resurrection life.
There is no evidence they believed in the Greek idea of “the immortality of the soul.”
The Sadducees believed a person dies and literally ceases to exist. They tried to get Jesus to accept their belief and say there was no resurrection. According to Luke Jesus believed in resurrection life. He reminded the Sadducees that, “God isn’t the God of dead people, but of the living. To God all are alive.”
There are more than forty statements in the Christian Bible testifying that the Gracious Mystery we name God raised Jesus from death. So today once again we affirm our belief that God raised him from death.
Although much about me remains a great mystery to me, I continue struggling to understand the possibility and meaning of resurrection life. Quantum physics suggests we ought to think of “body/spirit” in new ways. Think of “body/spirit” as one reality, not two. Your body/spirit is who you are. You are a “bodied spirit.”
Stop thinking of your spirit or soul as something within you that leaves your body at the time of death! Think of “spirit” or soul as the reality you are, your unlimited potential to become more fully alive and human.
Think of your body as the material expression of your person, your spirit in this world. You – the spirit you are, makes yourself known through your body as you make choices and act.
Jesus responded to the Sadducees, “God isn’t the God of dead people, but of the living. To God all are alive.” You and I and each and every individual is in the process of realizing our full potential. When you have become all you are capable of becoming, you will not disappear or cease to exist. You will then be real, fully developed and held in God’s unconditional love. There is no “outside of God.” Nothing of you can ever be lost.
What an amazing reminder. We our ancestors, our peers and all those to be born in the future are one – “The Communion of Saints” — the Living Body of Christ!