(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence on Friday morning. In remarks to the gathered faithful following the readings of the day, the Holy Father focused on the Resurrection as the seal of Christian identity. Drawing on the words of St Paul the Apostle from his Letter to the Corinthians, which were proclaimed at Mass, Pope Francis spoke of the difficulty that some Christians – and others, who might otherwise be attracted to the Faith – have in understanding and living with the certain knowledge in faith that our bodies will be transformed and that we shall be restored to them.
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“[The Corinthians],” said Pope Francis, “had other ideas: ‘sure, the dead are justified, they shall not go to hell – good thing, too! – but they’ll go into the cosmos, into the air – just the soul before God’,” and so St. Paul had to offer a “difficult correction”: that of the Resurrection. Nor were the Christians of Corinth the only ones to have difficulty with the teaching. The Greeks at Athens, to whom St. Paul also preached – the wise philosophers – were even afraid of the notion:
“[The Christian teaching on the bodily resurrection] is a scandal: they cannot understand it. This is why Paul offers the following line of reasoning, which is quite clear: ‘if Christ is risen, how can they say that there is not among yourselves resurrection from the dead, as well? If Christ is risen, the dead, too, shall rise’. There is resistance to the transformation, resistance to the work of the Spirit we received at Baptism, which is to transform us utterly, unto the Resurrection. When we speak of this, our language tlls us: ‘I want to go to heaven, I don’t want to go to hell’, but we stop there. None of us says: ‘I shall rise as Christ [did]’. No, even for us it is difficult to understand this.”
Pope Francis went on to say that a sort of “cosmic pantheism” is easier to grasp, since there is this resistance to transformation – St Paul’s word – and, “in the Resurrection, we shall all be transformed.”:
“This is the future that awaits us and this is the fact that brings us to pose so much resistance: resistance to the transformation of our bodies. Also – resistance to Christian identity. I’ll say more: perhaps we are not so much afraid of the Apocalypse of the Evil One, of the Antichrist who must come first – perhaps we are not so afraid [of him]. Perhaps we are not so afraid of the voice of the Archangel or the sound of his trumpet – that shall sound the victory of the Lord. Fear of our resurrection, however, we have: we shall all be transformed. That transformation shall be the end of our Christian journey.”
Pope Francis went on to say that the essence of Christian identity is, “being with the Lord, in body and soul.” He went on to say, Our Christian identity is completed, therefore, “with the resurrection of our bodies, with our resurrection.”:
“That is the end, right there: [that point in which we are] satiated, by the image of the Lord. Christian identity is a way, a journey, on which we ‘are’ with the Lord, as those two disciples who ‘were with the Lord’ on that night. Our whole life is called to 'being with the Lord', in order – at the end – after the voice of the Archangel, after the sound of his trumpet, to remain with Him and abide with the Lord [forever].”