7. THE DEAD RESURRECT. From death to life

Created: Monday, 24 June 2013 Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 June 2013

From death to life

1. - The Gospel lays down a challenge to the hard, painful and disturbing fact of death, “It is the greatest enigma of human life” (GS 18). Before it human reason acknowledges itself unable to glimpse a ray of light and hope. In fact, many live death as dust (Gn 3, 19), it is to say, as total annihilation of the existence. The death comes in through the eyes. Nevertheless, one of the signals of the Gospel s this: “the dead are brought back to life” (Mt 11, 5). It can seem strange. For this reason Jesus says: “Do not be surprise at this” (Jn 5, 28). Precisely, because things are not clear, it is necessary the announcement of the Gospel. The challenge is clearly established by St. Paul: Oh death, where is your victory? (1 Co 15, 55).
2.- After the denounce of the temple, the scribes and chief priests besiege Jesus with questions. In this context, some Sadducees (those who say that there is no resurrection) raise the case of the woman who dies after having successively married seven brothers when she became a widow: Now, on the day when the dead are raised to life, to which of them will the woman be wife? (Lk 20, 33). Jesus answers: “Men and women marry because they are children of this world; but for those who are considered worthy of the world to come and of resurrection from the dead, there is no more marriage. Know that they are like angels and cannot die anymore. They are now children of God, for he raised them. And that the dead are raised to life has also been indicated by Moses in the passage of the burning bush, when he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. He is not a God of the dead but of the living ones, because all are alive for Him (20, 35-38). The Sadducees are totally wrong because they understand neither the Scriptures nor the power of God (Mt 22, 29).
3. – Therefore, for Jesus the dead are raised to life they cannot die again, they are immortal, they are like angels, God´s messengers for us; they are sons of God being sons of the resurrection. They are God´s family.  This is not new, it was already indicated by Moses: the God of our parents “is not a God of the dead, he is a God of the living ones”, “for him all are alive”. If we intend to be “like gods” (Gn 3, 5) leaving out God, we will be without horizon, without future, condemned to death. However, the death like dust, like the existence annihilation, does not belong to God´s project. According to his project, we are not condemned to die, but called to resurrect.
4.- Jesus talks about his own death as a passing from this world to the Father (Jn 13, 1), a journey from this world (subjected to death) to a new world (resurrected to life). He leaves but he comes back: “In a little while the world will see me no more, but you will see me” (14, 19). The parables of the grain of wheat that drops to the ground (12, 24) and of the woman who is about to give birth (16, 21) show us Jesus’ position about death. Death yields fruit. It is like giving birth. Being in the cross, Jesus tells the good thief: “Today, you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23, 43). God saves the life of those who believe in Jesus, of those who lose their lives for him (Lk 9, 24; see Mk 7 and Dn 12, 2). Even more, the eternal life to which the dead are resurrected belongs already to those alive who believe in Him: “the one who believes has eternal life” (Jn 6, 47)
 5. - In truth, Martha’s error was as widespread then as it is today: Yes, I know that he will raise on the last day” (Jn 11, 24), at the end of history. Marta refers to what she has been taught, the Pharisee doctrine, but Jesus tells her: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die Do you believe this?” (11, 25-26). For us, too, the question is valid: Do we believe this?
6. - The question is asked again and again: How can the dead be raised to life? What kind of body will they have? St. Paul says: “You fool! When you plant a seed in the ground it does not sprout to life unless it dies. And what you plant in the ground is a bare seed, perhaps a grain of wheat, on of some other kind, not the full-bodied plant that will grow up. God provides that seed with the body he wishes; he gives each seed its own proper body” (1 Co 15, 35-38). He also says: “When buried, it is a physical body; when raised, it will be a spiritual body” (15, 44). We speak, the best we can, with words and images common to something that totally transcends us: the life that Jesus announces, the life that conquers death, the resurrection as a blossoming, as an awakening, as a birth, as if dwelling in the Father’s house, as a returning (in other form) to this world

7 - We cannot imagine in what the spiritual body, the resurrected body consists. Whatever these views are, we resurrect in the image of Jesus, like his own body, radiant in glory (Phil 3, 21; see theme 2). Even now all of us, with unveiled faces must reflect as in a mirror the Glory of the Lord, while we are transformed into his likeness and experience more and more by the action of the Lord who is spirit (2 Co 3, 18). Resurrection is a divinization: “The last enemy to be destroyed will be death… so that God is all for all” (1 Co 15, 25 – 28). The resurrected body comes from heaven (15, 49), it has divine attributes: “Corruption is sown, uncorruption resurrects; humiliation is sown, glory resurrects; weakness is sown, vigour resurrects; a natural body is sown, a spiritual body resurrects (15, 42-44).
 8. - In truth, there is a very close link between Christ’s resurrection and ours. St. Paul says it so unequivocally: “If the dead does not resurrect, Christ either did not resurrect” (1 Co 15, 16). They are communicating vessels. That is why, along with the faith in Christ Resurrected, we confess: I believe in the resurrection of the dead. We believe that we will be ourselves and in plenitude, a plenitude that we cannot imagine: “What no man ever saw or heard … is the very thing God prepared for those who love him” (1 Co 2, 9). This plenitude is given to us in Christ: “By the right of Resurrection you have occupied the key point of the very Center in which everything is concentrated” (Teilhard de Chardin)
9. - Each one of us can hear the Word that resurrects the dead. Jesus said it : The time is coming (it has already come) when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear it will live”. (Jn 5, 25; see 5, 21). He also said: “There are many rooms in my Father’s house” (Jn 14,2).. St. Paul said something similar: “For we know that even if this tent we live in is torn down, God will have a house in heaven for us to live in, a home not made by human life, which will last forever” (2 Co 5, 1). It is sung in the liturgy: “The life of those of us who  believe in you, Lord, does not end, it is transformed. And when our home on earth collapses, we acquire an eternal mansion in heaven”. And we pray in this manner for those who have just died: “Let him, as he has shared the death of Jesus Christ, share also the glory of the resurrection” (Eucharistic prayer II). All of it does not prevent neither a possible purification (Lyon and Florence Councils, years 1274 and 1439) nor, for those that have done evil, a condemnation resurrection (Jn 5, 29).
10. - In Revelation, the martyrs already enjoy the resurrection of Christ; they live and reign with Him (Rv 20, 4-5). During the first centuries, the day of their death is celebrated as the day of birth. Saint Ignatius of Antioch (II century) in his way to martyrdom, writes: “My birth is near” (Letter to the Romans, 6, 1). And also: “Up to now, I am a slave. But if I get the martyrdom, I will be Christ´s freed and I will resurrect free in Him” (4, 3). And finally: “It is good that the sun of my life, leaving the world, may hide in God, so that I may dawn in Him” (2,2).
11. - According to the Council, “the funeral rites must clearly set forth the paschal meaning of the Christian death” (SC 81). In the experience of the communion of the saints, we can discover - in many ways - that the dead are living, like Christ is living. The relationship with them is not interrupted but flourishes; they intercede on our behalf (LG 49). Let us see the following testimony from Saint Theresa: “Sometimes it happens to me that those who accompany me and with whom I find comfort, are those who I know that are living there, and that those are the ones who appear to me truly alive; and those who are here seem to live so dead, that it looks like nobody in this world accompany me” (Life, 38, 6)
12. - Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive? (Lk 24, 5) As one day the women to the Resurrected, many people look for their dead among the dead, in the sepulchre. And, however, they are not there. They have risen. They are alive, as Christ is alive. If we believe it, many events will confirm us all this. Like in those times: They went out to preach everywhere, and the Lord collaborating with them and confirming the word with the signals that accompanied them. (Mk 16, 20). The signals make tangible the new presence of the resurrected.
* Dialogue: Do we believe this? , do we have questioning? , do we have signals?