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Browsing Fr. Joel Hastings

Resurrection of the Body?

Please expand on “Resurrection of the Body.”

A central article of our faith is the “incarnation”: That Jesus Christ is God in human flesh. In articulating this mystery, we affirm that Jesus is fully God and fully man, without any loss of His divinity, and with all that is true of the nature of human flesh. Within this mystery of the incarnation are the events of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. As Jesus is free from sin, His death appears to be contradictory – as death resulted from sin, one without sin should not die. Yet, in His love for us, He willing accepts the reality of death as a means to destroy the power that death inflicts upon fallen humanity. In other words, Jesus – who is without sin, and therefore not liable to death – willingly undergoes death in our human nature as the means to destroy the power of death over those who are liable to death due to sin.

I begin expounding upon the resurrection of the body in recounting the truth of God in the flesh in Jesus Christ and His saving death as it points to logical consequences for the life of Christ. Given that death truly had no claim on Jesus (as, once more, He is without sin), so His resurrected life is truly the logical consequence of Him undergoing a death which truly could not hold Him bound (St. Paul, in Romans 5-7 goes to great length to express these truths and how consequently we are also freed from death by Christ through the receiving of baptism in Christ for the forgiveness of sin). Thus, the first key for us toward understanding more fully the reality of the resurrection is that life is in God Himself and it belongs to Him to give life, even when that means breaking the bonds of sin and death by accepting death in Himself. In this way, it is important to acknowledge that the resurrection is of God’s acting.

What complicates matters, however, is that the resurrection is not merely spiritual in nature. Rather, we profess the resurrection of the body. Jesus’ own words testify that such a resurrection of the body is the destiny of all on the “last day”: those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life; those who have done wicked to the resurrection of condemnation (Cf. John 5:29). However, the Scriptures also make clear that while in the reality of death is the separation of the soul from the body, in the resurrection on the last day, we are to be raised up in a “glorious” body, not subject to decay. In other words, our very persons (that are a union of body and soul) are to be resurrected, not merely as a spiritual reality, but in the fullness of our nature as union of body and soul with all that we are being glorified and perfected – both soul and body.  What this glorified body “looks like” or how it functions (does it eat, sleep, etc.) is beyond our knowledge for now.

We are then left with the call to faith in the resurrection of the body as an act of God. That our “earthly” bodies decay and are subject to weakness and imperfection is a consequence of sin. However, that God, who died and is raised, wills to raise our bodies after the likeness of His own glorious body (once more, as given in Scripture) is a reality that is beyond our ability to fully comprehend – just as the sacrament of the Eucharist which IS His Body and Blood, though under the appearances of bread and wine, cannot be fully comprehended by us in this life. It is, however, what Christ Himself revealed both in His own works and in His words – and therefore it is what we are called to believe in, entrusting our whole being to Him in our act of faith.

 

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