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Our Savior And Redeemer… The Resurrection!

June 18, 2017 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 12

The Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is not a belief that a Christian may take or leave. St. Paul makes it crystal clear that if Jesus were not risen from the dead, then our faith would be vain. Period. His Resurrection is a non-negotiable dogma we can never doubt or call into question if we wish to be a Christian.
In previous articles we have dealt with the apologetics aspect of the Resurrection, and there is no need to repeat the argumentation here. I will instead deal with the condition of His Risen Body and the saving significance of the Resurrection.
The point is that Jesus did not come simply to die, but to die and rise again. We cannot separate the two realities. The essence of the Resurrection is the reunion of Christ’s Soul with His Body, which were separated at death.
Now, what was His Risen Body like?
Once risen from the dead, Christ or Lord was immune from all suffering and enjoyed the other perfections of the glorified body: It means that His soul was in total command of His Body, and He could penetrate the matter of the sealed tomb and the closed doors (Matt. 27:66; John 20:19); He was no longer tightly bound by space and time, but free to come and go at will, to appear or vanish in a split second (Luke 24:31); He could change His voice and features as He chose (Luke 24:15-32).
And His body was in a state of transfigured glory (Acts 9:3), which the Transfiguration had prefigured (Matt. 17:2), but which He kept veiled from His disciples in the forty days from the Resurrection to the Ascension.
Our Lord kept, however, the marks of His five wounds in hands, feet, and side for three main reasons: a) as a proof to the apostles that it was truly He (Luke 24:39); b) as a perpetual witness to His triumphant love and sacrifice, and c) because, bearing these glorious wounds, He intercedes with the Father in Heaven for our salvation (Heb. 7:25; 9:24).
In His Glorious Body, Our Risen Lord had no need to eat, but partook of the broiled fish to prove the reality of His Body (Luke 24:42-43). It was not in order to strengthen and nourish His flesh, since the risen body enjoys immortality and effortless agility.
The Resurrection is the greatest of all of our Lord’s miracles and constitutes above all the confirmation of all that He did and taught. All truths, even the most inaccessible to human reason, find their justification since Christ, by rising again, has given the definitive proof which He had promised, of His divine authority.
Christ’s Resurrection is the fulfillment of the promises both of the Old Testament and of Jesus Himself during His earthly life. The truth of Jesus’ divinity is confirmed by His Resurrection. The Resurrection of the Crucified one shows that He was truly “I AM,” the Son of God and God Himself.
A common objection to the Resurrection raised by non-Catholics or those who call themselves agnostics is that since Christ died on Friday by 3:00 p.m. and rose on Sunday, probably shortly after midnight, in our way of counting days as of 24 hours should lead us to say that He rose “on the second day” after His death.
But the Creeds declare that He rose “on the third day” because the Jewish method was to include the first day when counting the number of days between two events. So He died on Friday, rested on Saturday, and rose on Sunday. No need to count the hours; it was not the purpose of Jesus to carry a clock to His tomb.
Christ observed the Sabbath rest in the tomb. He rose on Sunday because it was the first day of the Jewish week, the day that God began the work of creation by saying, “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3). Christ is the true “light of the world” (John 8:12); His Resurrection is the beginning of the new creation. (2 Cor. 5:17). From early times, Christians called Sunday “The Lord’s Day” (Apoc. 1:10), and set it apart for Mass, which they called “the Breaking of the Bread” (Acts 2:42, 46).
Why is Mass attendance obligatory on Sundays? Simple: With the authority given her by Christ, the Church transferred the Sabbath rest and worship to Sunday. Already by the year 107, St. Ignatius of Antioch says that converts are “no longer observing the Sabbath, but living by the Lord’s Day, on which also Our Life rose by His power.”
After the conversion of Constantine in AD 312, the apostolic custom became law in the universal Church, and was given civil recognition. Whereas at one time, the Church’s legislation used to prohibit, on Sunday, work designated “servile,” the Church now says, “On Sundays and other Holydays of Obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate at Mass. They are also to abstain from such work or business as would impede the worship which must be given to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, or the due relaxation of mind or body.”
The obligation to attend Mass is a fundamental and serious one: “Those who deliberately transgress this obligation commit a grave sin.”
Thus the Church commemorates the Resurrection every Sunday of the year, but especially on Easter Sunday, as decreed by the Council of Nicea in AD 325. Easter Sunday, then, occurs between March 22 and April 25 inclusively. On account of differing methods of calculating the calendar, Easter Sunday does not always occur on the same day in East and West. The Resurrection is the greatest and oldest feast of the Catholic Church (and not Christmas, as many seem to think).
It is interesting to notice that Sacred Scripture at different times appropriates the Resurrection to each of the three Divine Persons. We read that, “God the Father…raised Him from the dead.” The Son of God says, “I have power to lay [my life] down, and I have power to take it again.” St. Paul says, “The Spirit…raised Jesus from the dead” (Gal. 1:1; John 10:18; Romans 8:11).
Various people were raised from the dead before Christ, including at least three raised by Our Savior Himself. The differences are: He rose by His own power, and they were raised by another; He rose glorious and immortal, and they returned to this life, to die again. Further, He pre-announced His Resurrection. His was also salvific and revelatory, and the great object of faith.
Next article: The Ascension!

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(Raymond de Souza, KM, is available to speak at Catholic events anywhere in the free world in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. Please email SacredHeartMedia@Outlook.com or visit www.RaymonddeSouza.com or phone 507-450-4196 in the United States.)

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