Reincarnation is a concept embraced by Hinduism and Buddhism in which a person is born into a new body over and over again until the goal of liberation from the cycle of rebirth is reached. It goes hand in hand with a cyclical notion of time, in which the world constantly passes through cycles of creation, destruction and recreation. As ideas from these two Eastern traditions have become popularized in recent years, this notion has entered the Western imagination.
But for Christians, time is linear, moving in one direction towards the culmination of history in God. Jesus rose from the dead to make possible our new life with God; each of us is invited to share in the new life offered to us by Christ. We affirm this belief when we pray in the Nicene Creed: “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” The Church teaches that each human being has a unique and immortal soul. In death the soul is separated from the body; in the resurrection the soul is reunited with its glorified body. This is not simply being born into a new body in the same world we knew before. Rather, it is a sharing in God’s life. Jesus himself described it only in metaphor as the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, etc. We do not become someone new again and again — instead we become who we truly are for the first time and forevermore. Life with God in the fullness of time is beyond our ability even to imagine. To learn more about what Catholics believe about the resurrection of the body, click here.
from Neela Kale and the Busted Halo Question Box
Photo credit: Peter Zentjens