What is the “resurrection of the body” and what does that mean to me?

Faith in the resurrection of our bodies is inseparable from our faith in the Resurrection of Christ’s body from the dead. He rose as our head, as the pattern of our rising, and as the life-giving source of our new life. “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you” (Rom 8:11).

Belief in the resurrection of the body already existed in Christ’s time among the Pharisees. Jesus performed miracles of raising the dead to life as symbols of his future Resurrection, and he associated these events with himself: “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:25).

Christ, “the first-born from the dead” (Col 1:18), is the principle of our own resurrection, even now by the justification of our souls (cf. Rom 6:4), and one day by the new life he will impart to our bodies (cf. Rom 8:11). (CCC, no. 658)

All the dead will rise when Jesus comes again to judge the living and the dead. In the final resurrection, our bodies will be transformed, though we do not know precisely how. The manner of our resurrection exceeds our understanding and imagination and is accessible only to our faith.

But someone may say, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come back?” You fool! What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps or of some other kind. . . . It is sown corruptible, it is raised incorruptible. . . . The dead will be raised incorruptible. . . . For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality. (1 Cor 15:35-37, 42, 52, 53)

Every time we attend a funeral vigil or Mass, view a deceased body at a wake, or pass by a cemetery, we are reminded of this simple and profound article of the Creed, the belief in the resurrection of the body. It is a sobering belief, because it reminds us of the judgment yet to come, and at the same time it is a joyful belief that heralds life everlasting with God.

You can read more from the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, order your own copy, or read questions about it at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.

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