‘Surrexit Christus spes mea, alleluia!’
“Christ my hope is risen, alleluia!” A very happy Easter to you from all the priests of St Mary’s. Thank you so much for your Easter greetings and cards.
The Resurrection of Christ from the dead is the central mystery of our Faith and should fill us all with great joy and hope. By it Our Lord proved He was the divine Son of God and that His teachings were true. The Gospel does not say that it was just Our Lord’s soul that lived on (which is what some people advocate), and neither is His Resurrection the same as Lazarus being raised from the dead (John 11:38-44). Lazarus returned to an ordinary earthly life and eventually died again. Our Lord did not return to ordinary life. Lazarus rose by the power of another (JESUS), whereas Our Lord rose by His own power as God. He is now immortal and will never die again.
It is also the formal teaching of the Catholic Church that JESUS, after having been put to death on the Cross, three days later rose in the same Body: the Body in which He died is the same one in which He rose. But although it was the same Body it was qualitatively changed. This is very evident from the Scriptures. And from Our Lord’s own Resurrection we know the qualities our future resurrected bodies will have when we will all be raised up with them on the last day.
St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) speaks of four qualities our resurrected bodies will have. Agility which means the body will not be bound by the same laws of nature as before. So, for example, we would be able to go from Loughborough to Rome in an instant. Subtlety is the spiritualising of the body which means we will be able to pass through walls and doors just as Our Lord did, while at the same time remaining flesh and blood. The third quality is impassibility which means our bodies will no longer suffer sickness and death. The final quality is clarity, in which our bodies will be freed from any deformity and will be filled with beauty and radiance. This will be the result of seeing God face to face and of being filled with Sanctifying Grace. These two things will cause us to give off a radiant light.
This faith in eternal life and the resurrection of the body to come should comfort us in our sufferings and sorrows just as it did with Job in the Old Testament. In the midst of all his trials he said, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day I shall rise out of the earth. And I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I will see my God” (Job 19:25, 26). The Resurrection of Christ gives purpose to our life and purpose to hold on to the Catholic Faith we have received, and it gives meaning to the Lenten penances we have carried out. The promise of the resurrection has driven men to die for Christ and for the Faith. In the words of St Paul, “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? Now the sting of death is sin: and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through our Lord JESUS Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).
Fr Paul Gillham, IC