Catholics look forward to the resurrection

Friday, Apr. 22, 2011

By Jakob Rinderknecht

Special to the Intermountain Catholic

"I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen."

This is how we will end the creed once we begin using the new Roman Missal translation in Advent. After the exhaustive section on Christ, this can seem an abrupt ending, but these short words bear some reflection in this season of Resurrection, our Great Feast of 50 days: Easter.

Catholic faith expects that "if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection" (Rom 6:5). We spend Holy Saturday night retelling and reliving the story of God and his people from the very beginning of the world. We welcome new Christians to the waters of baptism, the Sacrament of Confirmation, and the Body of Christ in the Eucharist. We proclaim the triumph of "Christ our Light" over the darkness of sin, death, and the devil.

The center of our story is that the very logos of God became one of us to proclaim God’s love and redemption of the world in our midst. Even our ancestors’ rejection of the Word did not end his proclamation of that reconciliation, for he proclaimed it through other means, "proving his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us" (Rom 5:8).

In our baptism, we are united to Christ, united to his very Body. Each time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, we are more closely configured to the Body of Christ. The Church is strengthened, we are united, and we bound yet more closely to the Christ whom we receive. This is the center of our hope – that we will be raised as Christ was raised because we have been united to him.

When a Christian dies, we mourn, for we will miss their palpable presence in our midst. But more strongly than that, we rejoice, for they have gone to God, awaiting the resurrection of the last day. We "look forward to the resurrection of the dead." (Nicene Creed)

Only as spirit and body are we completely human, and this is what Christ promises. Christ himself was raised bodily, appeared to the disciples and ate with them. In the same way, we proclaim that Mary was assumed into heaven, body, soul and spirit (everything that is human). She shows us what Christ has in store for us all – the fullness of his life before the Father in the Holy Spirit.

Although many people have proposed images of what this will look like, its truth is more than we can imagine. As the apostle reminds us: "eye has not seen, and ear has not heard …what God has prepared for those who love him" (I Cor 2:9). For now we look forward to being joined to Christ’s resurrection and sharing in his life. And that is reason for hope and for joy, for a feast of 50 days and every day!

Jakob Rinderknecht teaches Adult Religious Education at The Cathedral of the Madeleine. He holds a master’s degree in systematic theology from Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., and has been accepted into the doctoral program in Religious Studies at Marquette University in Milwaukee.

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