The Bible tells us that when Jesus returns to earth, He will physically raise all those who have died, giving them bodies they seem to have lost at the end of their earthly life. These will be the same bodies they had while they lived on earth. Did not Jesus have the same body after He rose from the dead? Yet, it was different. His followers were unable to recognize Him at first, but later they did. Because He had the same body, except that it was now in a glorified state. He could walk through walls and be in more than one place at the same time.
The resurrection of the body is an essential Christian and even Jewish doctrine, as the apostle Paul declares, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty [too] is our preaching; empty, too, your faith. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all” (1 Corinthians 15:13-18). In other words, our hope is not only for our lives here on earth. This life is very short indeed! It is the next life, the one that is eternal, which we hope for.
Because as Paul tells us the Christian faith cannot exist without this doctrine, it has been infallibly defined by the Catholic Church. It is included in the Church’s profession of faith, the Apostles’ Creed, and has been solemnly taught by the Church’s ecumenical councils. When will all this take place? Definitely, it will occur on the last day. The Bible tells us, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). So, the Christian should have no fear of death. All those who have followed Him have His promise that one day we too shall rise as He did on that first Easter morning, and then we shall enjoy a wonderous heavenly bliss with Him for all eternity.
© Copyright 2004 Grace D. MacKinnon
For permission to reprint this article, or to have Grace speak at your event, contact Grace MacKinnon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grace MacKinnon holds an MA in theology and is a syndicated columnist and public speaker on Catholic doctrine. Her new book Dear Grace: Answers to Questions About the Faith is available in our online store. If you enjoy reading Grace’s column, you will certainly want to have this book, which is a collection of the first two years of “Dear Grace.” Faith questions may be sent to Grace via e-mail at: email@example.com. You may also visit her online at www.DearGrace.com.