Continuing last week with more on what resurrected bodies will be like.
1 Grant, of course, that in the resurrection the merit of Christ does remove the deficiency of nature commonly from all men, from both the good and the evil; nonetheless, a difference will persist between the good and the evil in respect to what is suitable to each group personally.
Now, it is an essential of nature that the human soul is the form of the body which vivifies the body and preserves it in being, but by its personal acts the soul merits to be elevated to the glory of the divine vision or to be excluded from the order of that glory by reason of its sin.
The body, then, will be commonly disposed in all men in harmony with the soul, with this result: The incorruptible form bestows an incorruptible being on the body in spite of its composition from contraries, because in respect to corruption the matter of the human body will be entirely subject to the human soul. But the glory and power of the soul elevated to the divine vision will add something more ample to the body united to itself. For this body will be entirely subject to the soul, the divine power will achieve this, not only in regard to its being, but also in regard to action, passion, movements, and bodily qualities.
2 Therefore, just as the soul which enjoys the divine vision will be filled with a kind of spiritual lightsomeness, so by a certain overflow from the soul to the body, the body will in its own way put on the lightsomeness of glory. Hence, the Apostle says: “It is sown in dishonor. It shall rise in glory” (1 Cor. 15:43); for our body is dark now, but then it will be lightsome; as Matthew (13:43) has it: “The just shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
3 Moreover, the soul which will enjoy the divine vision, united to its ultimate end, will in all matters experience the fulfillment of desire. And since it is out of the soul’s desire that the body is moved, the consequence will be the body’s utter obedience to the spirit’s slightest wish. Hence, the bodies of the blessed when they rise are going to have agility.
This is what the Apostle says in the same place: “It is sown in weakness, it shall rise in power.” For weakness is what we experience in a body found wanting in the strength to satisfy the desire of the soul in the movements and actions which the soul commands, and this weakness will be entirely taken away then, when. power is overflowing into the body from a soul united to God. For this reason, also, Wisdom (3:7) says that the just “shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds”; this is not said because there is motion in them by reason of necessity, since they who have God want nothing, but as an indication of their power.
4 Of course, just as the soul which enjoys God will have its desire fulfilled in the achievement of every good, so also will its desire be filled in the removal of every evil, for with the highest good no evil has a place.
Therefore, the body perfected by the soul will be, proportionally to the soul, immune from every evil, both in regard to act and in regard to potency. This will be actually so, indeed, because there will not be in them any corruption, any deformity, any deficiency. It will be potentially so, however, because they will not be able to suffer anything which is harmful to them. For this reason they will be incapable of suffering.
Nonetheless, this incapability of suffering will not cut them off from the modification essential to sense knowledge, for they will use their senses for pleasure in the measure in which this is not incompatible with their state of incorruption. It is, then, to show their incapacity for suffering that the Apostle says: “It is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption” (1 Cor. 15:42).
5 Furthermore, the soul which is enjoying God will cleave to Him most perfectly, and will in its own fashion share in His goodness to the highest degree; and thus will the body be perfectly within the soul’s dominion, and will share in what is the soul’s very own characteristics so far as possible, in the perspicuity of sense knowledge, in the ordering of bodily appetite, and in the all-round perfection of nature; for a thing is the more perfect in nature, the more its matter is dominated by its form.
And for this reason the Apostle says: “It is sown a natural body, it shall rise a spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15:44) The body of the risen will be spiritual, indeed, but not because it is a spirit, as some have badly understood the point, whether in the sense of a spiritual substance, or in the sense of air or wind; it will be spiritual because it will be entirely subject to the spirit. just so, the Apostle calls it now an “animal body,” not because it is a soul, but because it is subject to animal passions and requires nourishment.
6 This, then, is clear from the points now made: Just as the soul of man will be elevated to the glory of heavenly spirits to see God in His essence, as was shown in Book III, so also will his body be raised up to the characteristics of heavenly bodies: it will be lightsome, incapable of suffering, without difficulty and labor in movement, and most perfectly perfected by its form.
For this reason the Apostle speaks of the bodies of the risen as heavenly, referring not to their nature, but to their glory. Hence, after he had said that “there are bodies celestial and bodies terrestrial,” he added: “one is the glory of the celestial, and another of the terrestrial” (1 Cor. 15:40). just as, of course, the glory to which the human soul is exalted exceeds the natural power of the heavenly spirits, as was shown in Book III, so does the glory of the risen bodies exceed the natural perfection of the heavenly bodies so as to have a greater lightsomeness, a more stable incapacity for suffering, an easier agility, and a more perfect worthiness of nature.