Today St. Paul deals with one of the most vexing issues for all of us, death. But if we look closely the Scripture distinguish two kinds of death: death plain and simple, and death in Christ. Death per se is the result not of God's plan, but is the price we all pay for sin. Death in Christ is a temporary state, a time of transformation. Not only will the dead in Christ rise, but St. Paul tells us today that the dead in Christ will be the first to rise at the second coming of Christ.
On Sunday the second Eucharist prayer borrows the language of today's first reading from 1 Thes. 4 when it distinguishes "those who have fallen asleep in Christ" from those who have died.
Not only will our souls be saved but our bodies as well. What the ressurected body will be like is a mystery. We know that it will be like his.
Once more we are reminded that human body is not a bad thing. It was created by God and as such is good, and according to God's will is destined to participate in eternal life. It is true that in our bodies as they are we experience weakness and temptation to sin, but that dies not make the body itself evil.
St. Paul does use rather harsh language about how we must deal with this our bodies. He says we must enslave it. (1 Cor. 9:27) He uses the metaphor of the athlete as well to describe how every Christian should treat their body.
Too many Christian have fallen into the error of simply dismissing their bodies as unimportant. Today we are reminded that while at the moment of death our souls are separated from the body, we had better be ready for the reunion, and in the mean time treat our bodies as if we are to spend eternity with them. Few of us may be athletes as the world uses that term but all of us should be runners for the prize as St. Paul means it.