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August 23, 2005

Ch. XXI. Q. 121. The Meaning of the Resurrection

WHAT happened in the resurrection was a restoration of the living relations of our Lord's human body and spirit, and the endowment of His body with certain spiritual qualities and capacities, by reason of which it became (a) a perfected and plastic instrument of His human spirit; (b) As to its visibility and tangibility, subject to the Will of its Owner, and requiring a certain spiritual capacity in those who saw and touched it; (c) capable of new and higher modes of presence and action; (d) immortal, being independent of carnal nourishment, and incapable of suffering.1

2. The resurrection declared Jesus Christ to be the Son of God with power.2 It was supremely evidential, affording to the minds of the apostles an illuminating clue to the significance of His Person and teaching, previously not sufficiently realized, and enabling them to receive the fuller teaching of the Holy Spirit. In brief, the resurrection justified Christ, and both vindicated and interpreted His claims and mission. Once apprehended by the apostles, and considered in relation to their previous experience of Him, so far from being incredible, the resurrection was perceived to be inevitable. Such an one "could not be holden of death."3

3. The resurrection was the proper and interpretative sequel both of the Incarnation and of His death, a third critical stage in the mystery of which the Incarnation was the first. It initiated that exaltation of our nature which was involved in the hypostatic union, delayed because of the humiliation which Christ came in order to endure; and it achieved the victory over death, without which He would have died in vain, making possible that abiding priesthood of which His death is the consecrating basis. Thus the resurrection is the most critical and significant event in all history.4

4. Having died in order to expiate our sins, He was raised for our justification.5 That is, His resurrection and consequent ascension qualified His Manhood, in accordance with the purpose of His taking it and dying in it, to become an abiding source of regenerative and sanctifying grace to us in His mystical body, the Church. It is by reason of this grace, made available through Baptism, that, without unreality, God can justify us, or account us righteous, before we have actually become righteous, because He puts us in the way of truly becoming so in Jesus Christ.6

5. Christ has become the Firstfruits of them that slept,7 and this both morally and in relation to our bodies. The new vital principle which His resurrection creates for us is the power of a righteousness which is new. For it is not an improved or reformed natural morality; but is a supernatural righteousness, wherein natural virtues are absorbed and transfigured, and whereby we are equipped for our proper destiny—divine fellowship.8

6. It is a vital part of God's purpose that our whole nature should be redeemed, raised and perfected. Accordingly our Lord's resurrection in the flesh perfects our sacramental food of immortality, and becomes the earnest of our own bodily resurrection. Only in relation to the antecedent mysteries of His Incarnation and death, and to the subsequent mysteries of His mystical body and of our feeding on His flesh and blood in the Holy Eucharist, can we rightly perceive the meaning, value and necessity of the recovery of Christ's body of humiliation from death and its glorification.9

1 St. Thomas, III. liv.-Iv. 2; W. Milligan, Resurrection of Our Lord, pp. 7-14: and Ascension, pp. 15-20: H.P. Liddon, Easter in St. Paul's, pp. 80-83; D. Stone, Outlines of Christ. Dogma, pp. 101-102.

2 Rom. i. 4.

3 Act. ii. 24. Cf. St. John xx. 26-28; 1 Cor. xv. 12-19. Introduction ch. ii. 6; St. Thomas, III. liii. 4; H.P. Liddon, vi; xi. II; M. MacColl, Christianity in Rel. to Science and Morals, pp. 188-190; W. Milligan, Resurrection, pp. 153-159.

4 W. Milligan, pp. 139-152; W.J.S. Simpson, ch. x.

5 Rom. iv. 25.

6 St. Thomas, III. liii. 1; A.J. Mason, Faith of the Gospel, ch. vii. 2; Thos. Jackson, Works, vol. X. pp. 316-325; Sanday and Headlam, Ep. to the Romans, pp. 116-118; M.F. Sadler, on Rom. iv. 25 and Justification of Life, ch. i. §11; J.H. Newman, Doctr. of Justification, Lec. ix.

7 1 Cor. xv. 16-17, 20-21.

8 St. Thomas, III. liii. 3; Ivi. 1-2; H.P. Liddon, Divinity of Our Lord. p. 351; Easter in St. Paul's, xi. III, xx, xxiii, xxv. II, xxviii.; Univ. Sermons, 1st. Series, pp. 192-215; A.P. Forbes, Nicene Creed, pp. 231-235; W. Milligan, pp. 18-24; 160-170, 183-195.

9 Cf. Q. 149.3, in vol. III. St. John vi. 53-56. Creation, ch. x. 6-7; W. Milligan, pp. 183-189.

Posted by AKMA at August 23, 2005 04:00 AM