Saturday, November 06, 2010

Homily for 32nd Sunday of the Year

They are the same as the angels, and being children of the resurrection they are sons of God. (Luke 20:34)

When we think or talk of those who have died, those who were close to us, loved ones, parents and children, friends, wives, husbands, those we love, we might often think of them as like the angels in heaven - no longer seen yet still very present. And, when we try to explain such things to children, this is often the language that we use: no longer on earth, they are with the angels.But I wonder if we ever think about what this really means. Are angels the same as the holy souls? And if not, then what?[I notice with surprise that angels seem to be more and popular and talked about. People who are not really religious may refer to angels, have pictures and jewellery of angels. I notice that on the Christmas trees nowadays you hardly ever see a fairy - which is what we had when I was a child - now they are always angels. ]But for those who have gone before us things are not quite like that. In fact, if we think they are become angels, then we are selling them short. The faithful departed, the holy souls will be much  more wonderful like that.When we say we believe in angels we are saying that we know that the created world is far more than just what we see and touch. We are saying that the creation is visible and invisible, seen and unseen, physical and spiritual. And the angels are spiritual beings created by God. We might picture them, in one way or another, but in reality they have no physical form.But we, human beings are very different. We are not and will not be angels, because we are made in the image of God. We are both spiritual and physical. We are part of earth and heaven. We are not exactly the same as the angels (the translation here is not quite right, I think) but we are partly like them, because like them we are spiritual. But when we are fully united to God, we become not angels, but something far more: Children of the Resurrection, Sons of God. That is much greater, much more wonderful than being an angel.

And this is our great hope and our great comfort. For to hope in the Resurrection means to hope in a new creation where both body and soul, physical and spiritual, are united in God’s love. When earth and heaven will be made new there will no longer be any distinction, and no veil between them. This will be no parallel world - as if the angels sit on clouds and look down on earth - but a new world, a new existence, where all are the same and yet everything is changed.It is the perfection of God’s creation: the end of disease and suffering, the end of war and conflict, the end of hatred and envy, the end of sorrow and loss. It is dwellling in Love which lasts for ever.

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