I believe in the resurrection of the body
There is a relation between that which dies and that which grows and is harvested.
Christians believe in the resurrection of the body. And if the body will be raised from the dead, it must have existed before. “I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit” – from then on he had a body, he was a man, and this became visible for everyone after nine months – “born of the Virgin Mary”. The apostle John declares: “And the Word became flesh [man] and lived among us” (John 1:14). Later he can write about “what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands” (1 John 1:1).
All of the four gospel writers bear witness of a man named Joseph of Arimathea: “He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away” (Matt 27:58-60). But according to the creed, Jesus did not remain in the grave. “On the third day he rose again from the dead”. Did he still have a body? At least one thing is certain: The tomb was empty. The dead body was gone. The resurrection of the body!
After the resurrection it wasn’t easy to understand what had happened. Luke relates: “While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence” (Luke 24:36-43). It was the Jesus they knew. He is revealed as a complete human being, a man of “flesh and bones”, hands and feet, with wounds after a crucifixion.
Paul writes: “Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ” (1 Cor 15:23). The first fruit makes the great harvest a certainty. There is a connection between that which dies and that which grows and is harvested, but at the same time it is something completely new and different. “So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body” (1 Cor 15:42-44).
We are grateful to Paul for this sentence as well: “Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Cor 15:51-53).
When priests celebrate requiem mass, they pray (in the midst of pain) with great joy: “Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended, and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven” (Preface of the Dead 1). Christians – you and I and all of us – we believe in the resurrection of the body. Amen.
Msgr. Berislav Grgić
bishop prelate of Tromsø