By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton


This picture shows one of the panels on the holy door at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. I have always loved it, and it speaks beautifully of the Good Shepherd reaching out to save the lost. That's the reason for hope.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Honour the Body

The particular focus of the Scriptures this weekend was the resurrection of the dead. This is a truth of our Christian faith and we profess it every Sunday in the creed: "I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come."

The "how" of the raising of our bodies after death is a great mystery. We accept it as a truth of faith even as we are unable to explain how it happens. Yet the fact that it cannot be fully explained does not mean that it is something so abstract that it has no bearing on our present earthly life. Quite the contrary. This article of faith in the resurrection of the body has enormously important implications for how we live now. The resurrection of the body means that we live but once. There is no reincarnation, a succession of second chances, as it were. Our bodily actions on earth have eternal consequences.

Therefore, the truth of the resurrection of the dead summons us to a serious self-examination of how we are living today. It raises the very particular question of how we honour the body. The human body is God's creation and therefore worthy of honour. What is more, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit!

Sadly, we see the body being demeaned, not honoured. This past week the priests of the Archdiocese gathered for two days of study, and received presentations on various forms of social media and their impact on youth and families. We were shown clips of music videos and internet sites that our young people see all the time. They reveal a terrible degrading of the body, which is being used as the object of personal gratification and financial gain. Since God fashioned us as a unity of body and soul, the objectification of the body objectifies the person, and that is causing terrible psychological and moral damage. This is diabolical and our children need to be protected from it and taught the proper honour that is due the body. The harm is not limited to children. The accessing of pornography by adults is widespread. Not only does this evil destroy those who are trapped as slaves in the industry; it is also wreaking havoc in our own homes.

The antidote to this horror is a rediscovery and acceptance of the proper way to relate to the body. God is the author and master of life, not us. He is the author and master of our bodies. We are but stewards. Our call is at all times to trust in his love, surrender to his plan, follow his wisdom and rely on his mercy as through our daily actions in the body we love God and our neighbour. Only in this way can we truly look forward in hope to the eventual resurrection of our bodies and the life of the world to come.