It's good for the kids to have some concepts of The Big Picture. That's concepts, as in more than one. Usually in the first class of the year I give a short pitch on the Bible as outlined in the article Two Minute Cadre, which is as stripped-to-essentials as possible while still being useful. That's one concept. I'll refer to that Big Picture throughout the year. But as we come to the last class, on Revelations (makes sense: last class/ last book) there are themes about our bodies'n'souls that also need to be integrated into a Big Picture. The unity of bodynsoul plays a critical role in the Catholic worldview, and the kids are repeatedly exposed to the importance of that unity: faith & works, sacraments, Jesus, a visible Church. And on this last night, they should see the significance of bodynsoul in the grand sweep of Salvation History before we get started on Revelations.
"This is our last class...please, don't cry....and we're going to learn about the last book in the Bible, which is....? No takers? Y'all know this, it's the book where all kinds of stuff is...revealed...oh, Revelations! Yeah, that was tough wasn't it? But to learn about the last book, Revelations, we have to start with the first book which is...Genesis! Right. Y'all always get that one.
"Hey, tell me again about Adam & Eve in the garden. They hadn't sinned. Yes, more please? They couldn't die. Right, because if there's no sin....there's no death. Yes. And if I went to Eden where there's no sin, and asked Adam if he wanted to go to heaven when he died, what would he think? He wouldn't understand you. Probably not...death? heaven? He & Eve were already perfectly happy hanging out with God, what else could he imagine? And ummm, what was Adam made of? Dirt! Yes, but I mean his two parts...oh, bodynsoul! That's it, and bodynsoul never separate, except when? When you die! Yes, and death is a consequence of...sin! Yes. [On the board goes 'Eden' and beneath it 'Bodynsoul.'] So Adam was in Eden with God, bodynsoul. His soul was perfectly happy and....? his body was too. Yes, both parts were perfectly happy. The whole Adam.
"Then Adam & Eve sinned, got thrown out of Eden, grew old, and died. Where'd their bodies go? In the ground! Yes, they just turned back into earth. And their souls? Heaven? C'mon now, why couldn't they go to heaven? Jesus hadn't opened heaven yet! Right...remember last week, we read the story of scabby Lazarus who rested in the Bosom of Abraham after he died, where was that? Hades! OK, that's the Greek word, what's the Hebrew word? It starts with an 'S.' Yes, let's see [on the board goes S-H-E-] oh, Sheol! Yes, Sheol. Remember Lazarus and the rich man were both there, but Moneybags was in the fiery part. So Sheol had a nice area, and a not-nice area. Remember the Anastasis picture, Jesus 'descended into Hell' to pull out people who could go to heaven. And were people's bodies in Sheol? No we said they were in the ground! Right, only souls were in Sheol, both good and bad. [on the board under 'Sheol' goes 'Soul', and beneath that, a decaying skeleton]
"Later on Jesus opens heaven, also called Paradise, like Eden. But in Eden, Adam and Eve were bodynsoul. Souls in heaven are happy there, but they are missing something, what? Their bodies! Yes, even if the souls are happy, a soul isn't a complete person, so the happiness isn't complete. [on the board goes 'Heaven' and beneath it 'Soul']
"Now let's review the beginning of Acts of the Apostles when Jesus ascends to heaven: "as [the apostles] were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." So, is Jesus coming back? Yes. And how exactly? Well...on a cloud? Yes, that's what the angels said. What will we call that, when he comes the second time? The second coming? Geniuses, yes. Revelations discusses the Second Coming and lots of other stuff, but for now I want to just stick to the problem that souls in heaven don't have their bodies. Let's see, remind of this part of Creed, "...I believe in the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the.....resurrection of the body! Yes, our bodies are reunited with our souls at the Second Coming. Here's what Revelations says: "I saw the souls of [the martyrs]. They came to life... And I saw the dead, great and small, standing... And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done." This is the Bible's way of saying everyone who ever lived will have their bodies reunited with their souls before the final judgement.
"Why does it matter to God that we get our bodies back at the end? 'Cause that's how He made us? Yes, we were made one whole person at a time. And a soul isn't a person, and a body isn't a person...what's a person? A bodynsoul! Yes. And if we're saved, and have our bodies back, we'll need a physical place for our bodies'n'souls to live with God. As we'll see shortly, that place is called the New Jerusalem, not heaven. [on the board goes 'New Jerusalem' and under it, 'bodynsoul']
"OK, review: Adam in Eden was a... bodynsoul! Adam in Sheol was a...soul! Yes, and his body was...ummm dead? Yes, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adam in heaven (assuming he is there) is a...soul! Yes, and his body? Still dead! [I add some more stuff to the board so it looks like the image at the top] And Adam in the New Jerusalem will have... his bodynsoul back together! Yes! The whole Adam is back! Good children!
This ends the introduction; discussion of Revelations will take the rest of the period.
This post is also available at the Amazing Catechists website.