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Of God and His Creatures
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CHAPTER LXXXVIOf the Qualities of Glorified Bodies

BRIGHTNESS. Though by the merit of Christ the defect of nature [i.e., death] is taken away from all, good and bad alike, at the resurrection, there will still remain a difference between the good and bad in their personal attributes. It is of the essence of nature that the human soul be the form of the body, quickening it and preserving it in being; while by personal acts the soul deserves to be raised to the glory of the vision of God, or to be shut out from the order of this glory through its own fault. The bodies of all men alike will be organised as befits the soul, so that the soul shall be an imperishable form giving imperishable being to the body, because to this effect the power of God will entirely subject the matter of the human body to the human soul.10441044Materia corporis humani animae humanae subjicietur omnino. But from the brightness and excellence of the soul that is raised to the vision of God, the body, united to such a soul, shall gain a further advantage. It will be entirely subject to the soul, God’s power so disposing, not in being only, but in all its actions, experiences, motions and bodily qualities. As then the soul in the enjoyment of the vision of God will be replenished with a spiritual brightness, so by an overflow from soul to body, the body itself, in its way, will be clad in a halo and glory of brightness. Hence the Apostle says: It is sown in dishonour, it shall rise in glory (1 Cor. xv, 43): because our body, which now has no light of its own, shall then be bright and shining, according to the promise: The just shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matt. xiii, 43).

II. Agility. The soul that shall enjoy the vision of God, being conjoined to its last end, will find its desire fulfilled in all things. And because the body moves at the desire of the soul, the body in this case will absolutely obey the beck of the spirit in its every command to move: hence the bodies of the risen will be agile; and this is what the Apostle means, when he says: It is sown in weakness: it shall rise in power (ib.) We experience weakness in the body, in that it proves incapable of satisfying the soul in the movements and actions which the soul commands. This weakness shall then be entirely removed by virtue overflowing into the body from the soul united to God. Hence it is said of the just that they shall run hither and thither like sparks in a dry bed of reeds (Wisd. iii, 7).

III. Impassibility. As the soul that enjoys God will have its desire fulfilled in respect of the gaining of all good, so also in respect of the removal of all evil. The body therefore, being made perfect in proportion to the soul, shall be free from all evil, actual and potential. As for actuality, there will be in the risen no corruption, no deformity, no defect. In point of potentiality, the risen Saints will be beyond the possibility of suffering aught that could give them pain: they will thus be impassible. Still this does not bar in them that sensibility which is proper to sentient beings: for they will use the senses to their delight in things that are not inconsistent with their state of incorruption. This impassibility is declared by the Apostle: It is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption.

IV. Subtlety.10451045   The fourth property is usually called ’subtlety’. St Thomas does not use the name, but indicates what is meant by it in the next chapter (Chap. LXXXVI), where he assigns as the “place of glorified bodies” the region above all the heavens (Eph. iv, 10), by which he understands the solid crystal spheres which carry the stars. Then to the difficulty, “that these heavenly spheres cannot be broken, for the glorified bodies to rise above them,” he answers: “The glorified bodies will be compenetrable with other bodies, of which we have evidence in the Body of Christ, which came in to the disciples when the doors were shut” (John xx, 19). This is the property of ’subtle ty,’ whereby a glorified body passes through obstacles with the freedom of a spirit.
   Is the heaven of glorified bodies in some remote star? Or is it in some unknown dimensions of space? There is a mystery in that cloud which received him out of their sight (Acts i, 9); and in those clouds of heaven in which he shall come again (Matt. xxvi, 64: Acts i, 11).
As the soul enjoying God shall perfectly adhere to Him, and share in His goodness to the full height of its capacity; so the body shall be perfectly subject to the soul, and share in its attributes so far as possible, in clearness of sense, in seemliness of bodily appetite, and in general perfection of the entire organism: for a natural object is more perfect, the more perfectly its matter is subject to its form. Therefore the Apostle says (1 Cor. xv, 44): There is sown an animal body, there shall rise a spiritual body. The risen body will be spiritual, not as being a spirit, but as being wholly subject to the spirit; as the present body is called animal, not because it is an animal,10461046This remark hardly fits the Greek, σῶμα ψυχικόν, which is better illustrated by ψυχικὸς ἄνθρωπος (1 Cor. ii, 14). but because it is subject to animal appetites and needs food.

It appears by what has been said that the risen body shall be bright and shining, incapable of suffering, moving without difficulty and labour, and most perfectly actuated by its form.


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