Skip to comments.The Catechism of St. Thomas Aquinas 5th Art. Cont. The third day He arose again from the dead.
Posted on 01/29/2009 9:02:06 PM PST by GonzoII
We must necessarily know two things: the glory of God and the punishment of hell. For being attracted by His glory and made fearful by punishments, we take warning and withdraw ourselves from sin. But for us to appreciate these facts is very difficult. Thus, it is said of God's glory: "But the things that are in heaven, who shall search out?" For those who are worldly minded this is indeed difficult, because "he that is of the earth, of the earth he is, and of the earth he speaketh;" but it is easier for the spiritually minded, because, "he that cometh from above is above all," as is said in the same place. Accordingly, God descended from heaven and became incarnate to teach us heavenly things. Once it was difficult to know about the punishments of hell: "no man hath been known to have returned from hell," as it is said in the person of the wicked. But this cannot be said now, for just as Christ descended from heaven to teach us heavenly things, so also He came back from the region of hell to teach us about it. It is, therefore, necessary that we believe not only that Christ was made man, and died, but also that He arose again from the dead. Therefore, it is said in the Creed: "The third day He arose again from the dead."
We find that many arose from the dead, such as Lazarus, the son of the widow, and the daughter of the Ruler of the synagogue. But the resurrection of Christ differed from the resurrection of these and of all others in four points.
SPECIAL CHARACTER OF CHRIST'S RESURRECTION
(1) Christ's resurrection differed from that of all others in its cause. Those others who arose did so not of their own power, but either by the power of Christ or through the prayers of some Saint. Christ, on the contrary, arose by His own power, because He was not only Man but also God, and the Divinity of the Word was at no time separated either from His soul or from His body. Therefore, His body could, whenever He desired, take again the soul, and His soul the body: "I lay down My life, that I may take it again. . . . And I have power to lay it down; and I have power to take it up again." Christ truly died, but not because of weakness or of necessity but rather of His own will entirely and by His own power. This is seen in that moment when He yielded up the ghost; He cried out with a loud voice, which could not be true of others at the moment of dying, because they die out of weakness. . . . For this the centurion said: "Indeed, this was the Son of God." By that same power whereby He gave up His soul, He received it again; and hence the Creed says, "He arose again," because He was not raised up as if by anyone else. "I have slept and have taken My rest; and I have risen up." Nor can this be contrary to these words, "This Jesus hath God raised again," because both the Father and the Son raised Him up, since one and the same power is of the Father and the Son.
(2) Christ's resurrection was different as regards the life to which He arose. Christ arose again to a glorious and incorruptible life: "Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father." The others, however, were raised to that life which they had before, as seen of Lazarus and the others.
(3) Christ's resurrection was different also in effect and efficacy. In virtue of the resurrection of Christ all shall rise again: "And many bodies of the saints that had slept arose." The Apostle declares that "Christ is risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep." But also note that Christ by His Passion arrived at glory: "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and so to enter into His glory?" And this is to teach us how we also may arrive at glory: "Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God."
(4) Christ's resurrection was different in point of time. Christ arose on the third day; but the resurrection of the others is put off until the end of the world. The reason for this is that the resurrection and death and nativity of Christ were "for our salvation, and thus He wished to rise again at a time when it would be of profit to us. Now, if He had risen immediately, it would not have been believed that He died; and similarly, if He had put it off until much later, the disciples would not have remained in their belief, and there would have been no benefit from His Passion. He arose again, therefore, on the third day, so that it would be believed that He died, and His disciples would not lose faith in him.
WHAT WE MAY LEARN FROM THE RESURRECTION
From all this we can take four things for our instruction. Firstly, let us endeavor to arise spiritually, from the death of the soul which we incur by our sins, to that life of justice which is had through penance: "Rise, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead; and Christ shall enlighten thee." This is the first resurrection: "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection."
Secondly, let us not delay to rise until our death, but do it at once, since Christ arose on the third day: "Delay not to be converted to the Lord; and defer it not from day to day." You will not be able to consider what pertains to salvation when weighed down by illness, and, moreover, by persevering in sin, you will lose part of all the good which is done in the Church, and you will incur many evils. Indeed, the longer you possess the devil, the harder it is to put him away, as St. Bede tells us.
Thirdly, let us rise up again to an incorruptible life in that we may not die again, but resolve to sin no more: "Knowing that Christ, rising again from the dead, dieth now no more. Death shall no more have dominion over Him. . . . So do you also reckon that you are dead to sin, but alive unto God, in Christ Jesus our Lord. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of iniquity unto sin; but present yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead."
Fourthly, let us rise again to a new and glorious life by avoiding all that which formerly were the occasions and the causes of our death and sin: "As Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life." This new life is the life of justice which renews the soul and leads it to the life of glory.
(For "Questions for Discussion" see Chapter 6.)
1. Wis., ix. 16.
2. John, iii. 31.
3. Wisd., ii. 1.
4. John, xi 1-44
5. Luke, vii. 11-16.
6. Mark, v. 35-43.
7. John, x. 18.
8. Matt., xxvii. 50.
9. Matt., xxvii. 54.
10. Ps. iii. 6.
11. Acts, ii. 3~. Rom., vi, 4.
13. Matt., xxviii. 52.
14. I Cor., xv. 20.
SUB>15. Luke xxiv. 26.
16. Acts, xiv. 21.
17. From the Nicene Creed.
18. "Chirst did not remain in the grave during all of these three days, but as He lay in the sepulchre during an entire natural day during part of the preceding day and part of the following day, he is said, in very truth, to have lain in the grave for three days, and on the third day to have risen again from the dead" ("Roman Catechism," "loc. cit., 10).
19. Eph., v. 14.
20. John, xx. 6.
21. Ecclus., v. 8.
22. Rom., vi. 9, 11-14.
23. "Ibid.," 4.
Copyright (c) 1996 by James Akin. All Rights Reserved.
Thanks for posting that! In the analogy between Christ rising on the third day and the imminent desirability of acting rightly, I saw a point of similarity with what we Methodists would call “holiness” in our particular sense. I was also reminded (no surprise) of the doctrine of resurrection of the body, which, as I understand, even Aquinas found somewhat problematic (e.g. how God would reconstitute the cannibal and his victims). I am inclined to accept metempsychosis, which I think eliminates the philosophical and scientific problems of resurrection of the body. Now there’s grist for a future discussion! In any case, we’ll all find out one day, won’t we?
I've heard it said that if God can make us out of nothing he can sure put us back together WITH something.