We are so used to the truth that Christ’s death saves us, that we forget that his rising saves us too. His death contributed something unique, because it took away our sins. But the Resurrection must not be forgotten. St Paul said: “Christ was put to death for our sins and raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25). His rising brings about the resurrection of our bodies and the resurrection of our souls.
To be a true human being, you need a body and a soul. If we are to be saved from everything that destroys our humanity, we need to be saved in our bodies and our souls. So when God became human in Jesus Christ, he became a true human being. Our Saviour united to himself a body and a soul, so he could heal both our souls and our bodies.
When we die, the soul is separated from the body. When we rise, they are reunited. Deprived of its body, the soul wants its body back, so there is a true human being again. Even when happy in heaven, the soul still wants its body back to share in the soul’s happiness.
Jesus saved us from sin and death by dying and rising. His body and soul were separated at his death on the Cross, and his body and soul were reunited on the third day. His soul wanted its body back, just as ours will. And when he rose from the dead, the Son of God reunited the very same soul and the very same body. The tomb really was empty. Jesus demonstrated the reality of his body to his disciples by eating before them, by showing them his wounds.
Our resurrection and Jesus’s Resurrection are intimately linked. Christ’s resurrection causes our resurrection. Of course God will be the ultimate cause. Only God has the power to raise the dead. But just as we use tools – pens to write on paper, hands to hold the pen – so God uses “instruments”. Think how the risen Christ uses the sacraments to bring us the Spirit’s grace. That’s just one way God uses Christ’s humanity to complete our salvation. God used Christ’s body, his soul, everything he did and suffered on earth, to save us. He uses Christ’s rising to raise up our bodies and souls. And just as every artist works from a model, with a plan in mind, so Christ will pattern our resurrection bodies on his.
Though Jesus took back the same body at the Resurrection, it was remarkably different. It was perfect. Even during his earthly life, though Jesus was perfect overall, he was not perfect in every way. He was not only a true human being, with a body as well as a soul, but he was also perfectly human. He enjoyed many graces, virtues and gifts that raised his soul to perfection, including the perfection of knowing and loving his Father.
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