BITE-SIZE THEOLOGY (70) – Is there any miracle that a Christian must believe (or else he is not Christian)?

– Rev José Mario O Mandía

“I lay down my life, that I may take it again. . . I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:17-18). Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, died of His own accord, at the moment He willed to die. And He took His life back at the moment He willed to take it. 

The Catechism (no 650) explains: “The Fathers contemplate the Resurrection from the perspective of the divine person of Christ who remained united to his soul and body, even when these were separated from each other by death: ‘By the unity of the divine nature, which remains present in each of the two components of man, these are reunited. For as death is produced by the separation of the human components, so Resurrection is achieved by the union of the two’ (St Gregory of Nyssa, In Christi resurrectione).” 

There are many miracles in the history of Christianity, but belief in the miracle of Christ’s Resurrection is required of anyone who wishes to be called “Christian.” St Paul says, “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (I Corinthians 15:14).

The CCCC (no 126) teaches: “The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ and represents along with his cross an essential part of the Paschal Mystery.” It is the crowning truth of our faith, the truth for which many Christians have been put to death. If it were just an opinion, or invention, or hallucination, they would have easily given it up in exchange for their life.

We must profess that the Resurrection really happened. It did not, as some “theologians” claim, happen only in the minds or the faith of the believers. The apostles, who did not believe right away that Jesus rose again, touched the risen Christ when He appeared to them (John 20:24,29); Jesus took food with his apostles (Luke 24:36-43); He spoke with them at length (Luke 24:13-35; Acts 1:34); He was seen not only by some or by one but by all present (Mark 16:14; John 24:36,50); “He appeared to more than five hundred of the brethren at one time” (1 Corinthians 15:5-6). 

“The apostles could not have invented the story of the resurrection since it seemed impossible to them. As a matter of fact, Jesus himself upbraided them for their unbelief” (CCCC 127).

What benefits does the Resurrection bring? The CCC (cf nos 651-655) says that Jesus’ rising again from the dead (1) confirms our Faith; (2) fulfils the prophecies of both the Old Testament and Jesus’ own prophecies; (3) confirms that Jesus is God; (4) opens for us a new life; and (5) is the principle and source of our future resurrection. It shows how a person who dies in God’s grace will be like, after Christ brings him back to life on the last day. The Gospel accounts show us a resurrected Christ that was in some ways different from the one who died. Jesus’ resurrected body showed characteristics that it did not possess before His death. The CCCC (no 129) explains why. “The Resurrection of Christ was not a return to earthly life. His risen body is that which was crucified and bears the marks of his passion. However it also participates in the divine life, with the characteristics of a glorified body. Because of this the risen Jesus was utterly free to appear to his disciples how and where he wished and under various aspects.”