August 10, 2014
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea.
The four properties of the risen and glorified body -- namely, clarity, subtlety, agility, and impassibility -- where at various times in the life of our Savior revealed after the mode of a foretaste of things to come. Last Wednesday's feast of the Transfiguration most clearly points toward the resurrection and glorification of our Lord's sacred Flesh. On mount Tabor, the clarity which is a proper quality of the risen body was present in Christ after the mode of a transient passion.
When our Lord walked on the water to visit his apostles tossed about by the waves, he prefigured the quality of agility.
(What follows is based mostly on Summa Theologica III, q.45, a.1)
The four qualities of the glorified body
Impassibility, agility, subtlety, and clarity are the four qualities of the resurrected body.
By impassibility, the glorified body suffers neither pain, nor injury, nor any other undesired influence from another. This was foreshadowed when, although the violent crowd desired his life, Jesus walked through their midst unharmed.
Subtlety is that quality by which the body is no burden nor any hindrance. It is by subtlety that our Lord passed through the walls of the locked room to be present with his disciples after his Resurrection. Likewise, by a certain foreshadowing of future glory, the Divine Infant passed through the sealed womb of the Blessed Virgin without causing any rupture or pain. Although, in both cases, we assert that the divine power is the principle of these acts, subtlety alone being insufficient to their accomplishment.
Clarity, by which the glorified body shines with a great brightness, was clearly manifest in the Savior's Transfiguration.
Agility is that quality whereby the glorified body will be perfectly subject to the soul so as to offer no hindrance to the accomplishment of the will. By agility, the glorified body moves quickly and easily wherever the soul wills to be. Furthermore, the body will have much greater power of sensation. This quality is prefigured when the Lord walks upon the waters.
So that we might persevere
It is well known that our Lord revealed his glory on mount Tabor so as to encourage his disciples to perseverance in trials. Indeed, it is no coincidence that the Savior was transfigured in the presence of Peter, James, and John only a short time after having made the first prediction of his Passion.
So that his followers might not be overcome by the cruelty of the death he would soon undergo, Jesus willed to manifest the glory which would be gained by this torment -- a glory which far surpasses the sufferings of the present. Before they should endure his death, the kind God wished for his chosen three to be witnesses to the promise of Resurrection.
Likewise, when the Lord prefigures the gift of agility -- whereby the body will go wheresoever the soul wishes it to be, and with great ease -- he seeks to direct the minds and hearts of his disciples to the glory which is to be revealed only after many trials and much suffering. Christ comes to them in the fourth watch of the night (which is to say, at the very end of the night, after many hours of darkness). He approaches as they are tossed about by waves and are fearful lest the ship should sink. And, revealing his glory, he calms the storm.
What the first prediction of the Passion was to mount Tabor, the darkness and waves are to the walking on water. The waves and the storm symbolize the sufferings and persecutions which are to buffet Holy Mother Church until the end of time. Only after the long night of her earthly pilgrimage will the Church and her saints receive our Lord in all his glory as he comes triumphing over the waves and storms, conquering every hostile power, to give his Bride everlasting peace.