Today’s Catechism sections discuss the “progressive revelation of the Resurrection. Supporting material comes from St. Augustine’s “Expositions on the Psalms”.

I. Christ's Resurrection and Ours

The progressive revelation of the Resurrection

992 God revealed the resurrection of the dead to his people progressively. Hope in the bodily resurrection of the dead established itself as a consequence intrinsic to faith in God as creator of the whole man, soul and body. The creator of heaven and earth is also the one who faithfully maintains his covenant with Abraham and his posterity. It was in this double perspective that faith in the resurrection came to be expressed. In their trials, the Maccabean martyrs confessed:

The King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws.538 One cannot but choose to die at the hands of men and to cherish the hope that God gives of being raised again by him.539

993 The Pharisees and many of the Lord's contemporaries hoped for the resurrection. Jesus teaches it firmly. To the Sadducees who deny it he answers, "Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God?"540 Faith in the resurrection rests on faith in God who "is not God of the dead, but of the living."541

994 But there is more. Jesus links faith in the resurrection to his own person: "I am the Resurrection and the life."542 It is Jesus himself who on the last day will raise up those who have believed in him, who have eaten his body and drunk his blood.543 Already now in this present life he gives a sign and pledge of this by restoring some of the dead to life,544 announcing thereby his own Resurrection, though it was to be of another order. He speaks of this unique event as the "sign of Jonah,"545 The sign of the temple: he announces that he will be put to death but rise thereafter on the third day.546

995 To be a witness to Christ is to be a "witness to his Resurrection," to "[have eaten and drunk] with him after he rose from the dead."547 Encounters with the risen Christ characterize the Christian hope of resurrection. We shall rise like Christ, with him, and through him.

996 From the beginning, Christian faith in the resurrection has met with incomprehension and opposition.548 "On no point does the Christian faith encounter more opposition than on the resurrection of the body."549 It is very commonly accepted that the life of the human person continues in a spiritual fashion after death. But how can we believe that this body, so clearly mortal, could rise to everlasting life?

St. Augustine comments on the resurrection in his “Expositions on the Psalms” (88, 5).

4. Free among the dead Psalm 87:5. In these words our Lord's Person is most clearly shown: for who else is free among the dead but He who though in the likeness of sinful flesh is alone among sinners without sin? Romans 8:3 ...He therefore, free among the dead, who had it in His power to lay down His life, and again to take it; from whom no one could take it, but He laid it down of His own free will; who could revive His own flesh, as a temple destroyed by them, at His will; who, when all had forsaken Him on the eve of His Passion, remained not alone, because, as He testifies, His Father forsook Him not; John 8:29 was nevertheless by His enemies, for whom He prayed, who knew not what they did, ...counted as one who has no help; like them that are wounded, and lie in the grave. But he adds, Whom thou dost not yet remember: and in these words there is to be remarked a distinction between Christ and the rest of the dead. For though He was wounded, and when dead laid in the tomb, Matthew 27:50, 60 yet they who knew not what they were doing, or who He was, regarded Him as like others who had perished from their wounds, and who slept in the tomb, who are as yet out of remembrance of God, that is, whose hour of resurrection has not yet arrived. For thus the Scripture speaks of the dead as sleeping, because it wishes them to be regarded as destined to awake, that is, to rise again. But He, wounded and asleep in the tomb, awoke on the third day, and became like a sparrow that sits alone on the housetop, that is, on the right hand of His Father in Heaven: and now dies no more, death shall no more have dominion over Him. Romans 6:9 Hence He differs widely from those whom God has not yet remembered to cause their resurrection after this manner: for what was to go before in the Head, was kept for the Body in the end. God is then said to remember, when He does an act: then to forget, when He does it not: for neither can God forget, as He never changes, nor remember, as He can never forget. I am counted then, by those who know not what they do, as a man that has no help: while I am free among the dead, I am held by these men like them that are wounded, and lie in the grave. Yet those very men, who account thus of Me, are further said to be cut away from Your hand, that is, when I was made so by them, they were cut away from Your hand; they who believed Me destitute of help, are deprived of the help of Your hand: for they, as he says in another Psalm, have dug a pit before me, and are fallen into the midst of it themselves. I prefer this interpretation to that which refers the words, they are cut away from Your hand, to those who sleep in the tomb, whom God has not yet remembered: since the righteous are among the latter, of whom, even though God has not yet called them to the resurrection, it is said, that their souls are in the hands of God, Wisdom 3:1 that is, that they dwell under the defence of the Most High; and shall abide under the shadow of the God of Heaven. But it is those who are cut away from the hand of God, who believed that Christ was cut off from His hand, and thus accounting Him among the wicked, dared to slay Him.

Footnotes

538 ⇒ 2 Macc 7:9.
539 ⇒ 2 Macc 7:14; cf. ⇒ 7:29; ⇒ Dan 12:1-13.
540 ⇒ Mk 12:24; cf. In 11:24; ⇒ Acts 23:6.
541 ⇒ Mk 12:27.
542 ⇒ Jn 11:25.
543 Cf. ⇒ Jn 5:24-25; ⇒ 6:40, ⇒ 54.
544 Cf. ⇒ Mk 5:21-42; ⇒ Lk 7:11-17; ⇒ Jn 11.
545 ⇒ Mt 12:39.
546 Cf. ⇒ Mk 10:34; ⇒ Jn 2:19-22.
547 ⇒ Acts 1:22; ⇒ 10:41; cf. ⇒ 4:33.
548 Cf. ⇒ Acts 17:32; ⇒ 12Cor 15:12-13.
549 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 88, 5: PL 37, 1134.