The Dumb Ox Explains …
the Resurrection of the Lord
The awesome sainted Thomas Aquinas was brilliant. In his brilliance, he began a masterpiece, the Summa Theologica, which is a perfect synthesis of rational thought and the Christian faith. If you’re looking for well-thought-out answers to your questions of faith, look no further than the Summa.
In this installment of The Dumb Ox Explains…, we’ll take a glance at some of St. Thomas’ arguments for the Resurrection.
A. Was it necessary for Christ to rise again? St. Thomas gives five reasons for the necessity of the Resurrection. One of the reasons is:
“…for the raising of our hope, since through seeing Christ, who is our head, rise again, we hope that we likewise shall rise again. Hence it is written (1 Corinthians 15:12): “Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how do some among you say, that there is no resurrection of the dead?” And (Job 19:25-27): “I know,” that is with certainty of faith, “that my Redeemer,” i.e. Christ, “liveth,” having risen from the dead; “and” therefore “in the last day I shall rise out of the earth . . . this my hope is laid up in my bosom.”
B. Was is fitting for Christ to rise again on the third day? Here St. Thomas says, among other things,:
“Consequently, in order that our faith in the truth of His Godhead might be confirmed it was necessary that He should rise speedily, and that His Resurrection should not be deferred until the end of the world. But to confirm our faith regarding the truth of His humanity and death, it was needful that there should be some interval between His death and rising. For if He had risen directly after death, it might seem that His death was not genuine and consequently neither would His Resurrection be true. But to establish the truth of Christ’s death, it was enough for His rising to be deferred until the third day, for within that time some signs of life always appear in one who appears to be dead whereas he is alive.
Furthermore, by His rising on the third day, the perfection of the number “three” is commended, which is “the number of everything,” as having “beginning, middle, and end,” as is said in De Coelo i. Again in the mystical sense we are taught that Christ by “His one death” (i.e. of the body) which was light, by reason of His righteousness, “destroyed our two deaths” (i.e. of soul and body), which are as darkness on account of sin; consequently, He remained in death for one day and two nights, as Augustine observes (De Trin. iv). “
C. Was Christ the cause of his own Resurrection? As St. Thomas explains to those who don’t believe that Christ has the power in himself to rise from the dead:
“…in consequence of death Christ’s Godhead was not separated from His soul, nor from His flesh. Consequently, both the soul and the flesh of the dead Christ can be considered in two respects: first, in respect of His Godhead; secondly, in respect of His created nature. Therefore, according to the virtue of the Godhead united to it, the body took back again the soul which it had laid aside, and the soul took back again the body which it had abandoned: and thus Christ rose by His own power. And this is precisely what is written (2 Corinthians 13:4): “For although He was crucified through” our “weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God.” “