Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What Will Our Heavenly Bodies Look Like?

The Holy Scriptures, along with Church Tradition, clearly teach that when (or if?) we get to Heaven, we will not be pure spirits like the angels. We will have bodies. Our earthly bodies will be resurrected, with all the decay of death completely removed. That’s very comforting, but I wonder what age our heavenly bodies will be? Will they be the same age we were when we died? I hope our bodies will be a bit younger, although age 13 might be a little too young; that was an awkward age. Since Heaven is a place of pure joy, I don’t suspect our bodies will be very old either. I mean, being in need of a walker, cataract surgery, and a pacemaker doesn’t sound like paradise. Even middle-age bodies are unlikely, since it’s hard to imagine heavenly saints being unable to find their reading glasses and needing to get up at 2 a.m. to use the bathroom.
Wouldn’t it be nice if in Heaven our resurrected bodies were a hybrid of various stages of life here on earth? How about this combination: our bodies have the experience and understanding of, say, a 70-year-old. But we also have the mental sharpness, focus, and drive of a 45-year-old. Finally, our heavenly bodies have the same physical strength and good looks we had when we were 20. Wouldn’t that be great? We’d be young and strong and handsome, but with the knowledge and experience that normally takes a lifetime to accumulate. That would be wonderful.
Except, there is one slight problem. Every single attribute I’ve just described—knowledge, mental sharpness, physical strength, good looks—are all attractive to us right now because of pride and vanity. We are imagining how great it would be to have all those attributes, but only because it would impress other people. C’mon, admit it. If your body was 20 years old, but you had the knowledge and understanding and mental skills of someone who has been an adult for many decades, that would be amazing. You’d get promoted at work; you’d be on the cover of magazines; you’d have members of the opposite sex begging to go out with you.
However, the reason that scenario strikes us as appealing is pure pride, the desire to be better and more attractive than everyone else. Some people are consumed with pride; others only have a small dose of it. But everyone on earth struggles with pride to some extent. Pride is the first and worst of all sins, and pride is the one thing that will not be in found in Heaven. In Heaven, the saints, with their resurrected bodies, joyfully focus all their attention and devotion toward God. The saints probably aren’t even aware of what their bodies look like. It doesn’t matter anymore. Pride and vanity are gone, and no one has the urge to impress anyone else, so who cares what bodies look like?

There is a place besides this earth where pride is abundantly present, and where people are very concerned about impressing others. That place is called Hell.
So maybe our resurrected heavenly bodies will be age 13. Or possibly age 90. It won’t matter to us then, because our time in Purgatory will have removed sinful pride from our souls. (Some of us, of course, who occasionally think we are the center of the universe, might need a couple extra millennia to root out that bad attitude.) 
Even though Scripture promises that we will have resurrected bodies in Heaven, the age and appearance of our bodies will be meaningless. The only thing that will matter is that we are awash in God’s love and joy for all eternity.

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