HOMILY for the 24th Sat per annum (II)
St Paul is probably a bit harsh with the Corinthians for wanting to know what kind of body the dead will have when they are raised. For we human beings have a natural curiousity, desirous of Truth and seeking knowledge of things. So, when the resurrection is preached, we naturally want to know more about it.
Except, of course, there are limits to what we can know. Some things are beyond the grasp of the human mind because they are beyond our natural human experience, and so, beyond even our human imaginings. Whatever is within the bounds of our human nature can be known to us through the senses and understood through the intellect. Hence, the natural sciences study those things in nature that are observable and measurable by the human person, and we infer causes from their observable effects in nature. But the resurrection of the dead, and life after death, does not fall within those bounds of nature; it is, therefore, supernatural, that is, beyond nature.
So how do we have knowledge of the resurrection? Through faith, which is a firm and certain trust in the word of another. That Other, whose word we trust is none other than Jesus Christ, God’s incarnate Word, the divine Logos. And God who is Truth speaks his Word of Truth into creation, into our human existence, so that knowledge of supernatural truths and realities can be revealed to us. Christ is the “faithful and true Witness”, and we rely on his testimony. We depend on his Word, handed on to us in Scripture and in the teaching of his Church, who are a “cloud of witnesses” that testify to the truth of the Gospel by their preaching and their lives, their martyrdoms and lived experience.
Hence, the Word of God is sown in our hearts. It is a Word that testifies to the One who is ”the Resurrection and the Life”. But whether or not we believe in Christ’s testimony and teaching, whether of not we have faith in him, depends on the conditions of our heart; the kind of soil it is. Some people will not believe because they wrongly believe the human mind to be limitless so that anything beyond its capacity to know, anything that is supernatural, is simply meaningless and untrue. Such people deny even the Creator since he is outside of the natural world, and is not a part of his creation. Others believe only in fair weather but when challenged by the natural miseries of the human condition, or the evil perpetrated by humanity, or the turmoil and disasters of our natural world, their faith falters. And still others believe or would like to, but the lust for money, power and bodily pleasures are too powerful a lure, and so, one ends up putting one’s faith in these worldly things rather than sacrificing them for the love of God. All of us, including myself, can be prone to these temptations to unbelief.
But, by God’s grace, we can be steadfast. For Faith to take root and grow, we need an “honest and good heart”, an openness to God and his possibilities which are greater than we can imagine. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t ask any questions – speculative theology can be fruitful and enjoyable! But Faith does require that we’re humble enough to recognize the limitations of our human nature, our reasoning, and our natural knowledge. Faith means that we recognize that human existence desires something more than what the world and our human experience offers. We recognize that the human heart desires something beyond itself – the transcendent and divine, which we glimpse in beauty and express in art, music, poetry, dance etc. Hence, God became Man so that he might lead us to the fulfillment of our deepest longings, raising our perishable humanity to the imperishable of divine life with him.
Thus Jesus is the answer to our questions, the ultimate Truth we seek. No one, therefore, is more deserving of our trust and faith.