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St. Thomas Aquinas
Catechetical Instructions

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  • THE FIFTH ARTICLE (CONTINUED): "The third day He arose again from the
    • SPECIAL CHARACTER OF CHRIST'S RESURRECTION
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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."7 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,8 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."9 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."10 Nor can this be contrary to these words,

"This Jesus hath God raised again,"11 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."13 The Apostle declares that "Christ is

risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep."14 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?"15 And this is to

teach us how we also may arrive at glory: "Through many tribulations we

must enter into the kingdom of God."16

 

(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,17 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.18

 




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.

 



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).

 






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