How many of us realize that the resurrection from the dead is at the heart of our Christian faith?

by May Tam
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

2 Maccabees 7:1-2,9-14

2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5

Luke 20:27-38

Resurrection from the dead is an idea that is often ridiculed, not only in the secular world but also even among the Christians. Apart from the annual Easter celebration which we generally accept as a custom, how many of us realize that the resurrection from the dead is at the heart of our Christian faith? (Christian belief of the resurrection from the dead is tied to Christ's own resurrection). How many of us can really capture the significance of that most explosive historical moment when Jesus was resurrected?

The significance is shown in the kerygma of the early church which focused on Jesus' death, burial and resurrection with His resurrection as the core message. Jesus' resurrection vindicated His claims and by it He conquered sin and death. This supernatural act of God in history authenticated the words and works of Jesus. St. Paul says, "if there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, your faith" (1 Cor 15:13-14). If Christ's resurrection is but a figment of human imagination, then our faith will be no more than some philosophical or ethical teachings of an exceedingly gifted man. "Faith in the resurrection rests on faith in God who 'is not God of the dead, but of the living' 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" (CCC 993, 995).

Belief in the resurrection of the dead implies belief in life after death. The idea of an afterlife is not exclusively Christian. It is taught in many religions but one of the most striking differences between Christian and non-Christian belief with regard to life after death is the Christian belief in bodily resurrection. Even though some believed it (see First Reading), it was supposed to happen to everyone at the end of time and not to one person in the middle of history. The centrality of the resurrection of Jesus constitutes the basis for the Christian hope of immortality and Christ's Parousia or "return to earth". The hope of a future life encourages us to persevere in good deeds (see Second Reading) and endure trials and sufferings (rf Rom 8:18, 1 Peter 4:12-13).

Christ's own resurrection and the belief of the resurrection from the dead are like directional arrows which point us to our target: the heavenly home where eternal life begins.