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Friends, Joseph Ratzinger said that the soul corresponds to our capacity for relationship to God. We have a whole range of intellectual and relational powers, but beyond them all, we have the capacity to know and love God. And since God is eternal, this power links us to eternity, proving that we are not simply limited to space and time. To say that we are nothing but “bodies” that flourish briefly and then fade away is to miss this dimension of our existence. Instead, we speak of souls and of the enduring existence of those who have gone before us into death.

This is why Jesus speaks so readily of eternal life in today’s Gospel: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.” There was a great debate in Jesus’ time within Judaism in regard to this question. Many, including the Sadducees, denied the idea of life after death; but others, including the Pharisees, affirmed it.

Jesus clearly sides with those who affirm it, and his own Resurrection from the dead demonstrated this belief as emphatically as possible.