Monday, March 24, 2008

What Theology of the Body has to say about Easter

Alleluia! It's always refreshing to be able to proclaim this word after Lent is over. I find that I catch myself for the first few days after Easter whenever I say or hear, "Alleluia," because it sounds strange after more than 40 days without it. In any event, today we are able to freely and joyfully proclaim alleluias, and for good reason.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the Paschal Mystery has two distinct aspects. By His death, Christ ransomed us from sin. By His resurrection, he gave us access to eternal life. Resurrection is the path to redemption, says Pope John Paul II. He adds that our redemption is the fulfillment of the hope of which Christ gives testimony with His death and resurrection.

This hope isn't something to be celebrated once a year on Easter, or merely to look forward to upon our death. Instead, Pope John Paul II says the resurrection gives us "the hope of everyday" -- the hope that we can accomplish victory over sin and temptation every day and to live out the vocation to which we are called. From Christ's gift of the redemption of our bodies, we must draw "the inspiration and strength" to live out God's plan for our lives.

It is interesting to note that Christ experienced the resurrection of the body. His body appeared with the wounds from His crucifixion, but He had a glorified body. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that Christ did not return to ordinary earthly life (as Lazarus did when he was raised from the dead). Instead, Christ was outside of time and space and had a glorified body. We receive a key into our own resurrection of the body from the Gospel accounts of that of Christ.

In theology of the body, Pope John Paul II spent lots of time reflecting on man before and after original sin. He points out that, "This 'heavenly man' -- the man of the resurrection, whose prototype is the risen Christ -- is not so much the antithesis and negation of the 'man of the earth' (whose prototype is the 'first Adam') but above all his fulfillment and confirmation." He continues, "The humanity of the 'first Adam,' the 'man of the earth,' carries within itself, I would say, a particular potentiality (which is capacity and readiness) for receiving all that the 'second Adam' became, the heavenly Man, namely Christ: what he became in his resurrection."

Another gift Christ has given us is the sharing in His divine nature, through grace. We have been adopted by God the Father and have been espoused to Christ forever. Because of His grace, we will be able to partake in the Beatific Vision, seeing God face to face, and participating in a reciprocal gift of self to God in heaven.

Through His death and resurrection, Christ has given us, in a sense, a new body and a new dignity. We, therefore, have a new obligation to live out God's plan for us. As 1 Corinthians 6:20 states, "You were bought at a great price." May we remember these gifts this Easter season and continue to allow His grace to transform our lives every day. Alleluia!

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