Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

James Alison on the resurrection Jesus

I especially find intriguing Jesus' resurrection appearances - I have so many questions about them, like why didn't Jesus want Mary M to touch him, why was he ok with Thomas touching him, why couldn't the disciples recognize him, why did he keep his wounds, why was he insubstantial enough to walk through a locked door but substantial enough to eat, what did his cryptic remarks to Peter about John waiting to die until he returned mean, etc?

- Christ and the Disciples at Emmaus by Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret

I saw that Cura has a post about those appearances of Jesus, and I was reminded of an old post of mine which featured a short excerpt from James Alison's book Knowing Jesus, on the post-resurrection Jesus. Here's the excerpt ....


Often we are so concerned with questions as: what sort of body did Jesus have, was the resurrection physical, and so on, that we fail to notice what is perhaps the really important thing of which the physical appearances of Jesus were signs. That is, that the crucified and risen Jesus was not only crucified as a human but rose as a crucified human.

It is I think important to hold on to this, since there is a tendency, helped by the apparent vagueness of the gospel texts when they deal with the resurrection, to imagine that Jesus may well have been human up until his death, but from the resurrection onwards, he reverted to being God, and eventually, like a helium balloon, couldn't be held to the earth any longer, and floated back to heaven where he belonged.

Well, this is not the case. When Jesus died, it was a fully human being who died completely, and when Jesus was raised from the dead, it was a human being who was given back to us. Given back as a crucified and living human being. I stress this for two reasons: first, and incidentally, because if we don;t hold on to this, we make a nonsense of the belief in the ascension. The special form of the Eucharistic prayer for the Mass of the Ascension says:

In union with the whole Church we celebrate that day when your only Son, Our Lord, took his place with you and raised our frail human nature to glory.

That is to say, the ascension was not Jesus beaming back up to Starship Enterprise when the Mission was accomplished, leaving the earthlings to play happily; it was the introduction of a novelty into heaven: human nature. Being human was from then on permanently and indissolubly involved in the presence of God .....

What is important is that the risen and crucified Jesus was no less human after his resurrection than before it. This not only says something about the presence of human nature in heaven, but something about the presence of God on earth. The divine life is indissolubly and permanently present as human. All divine dealings with humanity are on a human level .....



Blogger Fran said...

Provocative! I am glad I read this just as I head out to work. (at a church no less!)

4:07 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Fran. Thanks for the comment :)

12:36 PM  
Blogger Mike L said...

I did read somewhere that the translation is not good, that what Christ said to Mary Magdalen was "do not hold me" indicating that He still had things to do that she should not attempt to stop him. Makes a lot more sense to me than not wanting her to touch him.

I also saw somewhere that whatever change happened to His resurrected body, most people did not recognize him. Yes the accounts are sketchy, but to be honest if He appeared to me, I am not sure I would have the where with all to check out whether or not his wounds were there or not, I think I would be busy with other thoughts, maybe like what my body looked like at that point :).

Hugs and Blessings,

Mike L

2:16 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

I like that translation better - Don't hold me. It does seem to make more sense.

Maybe spiritual bodies look different because they're ideal? But then Jesus wouldn't have the wounds, I guess. Mysterious :)

5:47 PM  
Blogger Mike L said...

Maybe, at least in the case of Christ the wounds are part of his ideal body.

Someplace long ago I read that even our sins will be badges of honor since we had the courage to ask for forgiveness for them and made amends. Kind of an interesting thought. Still I wouldn't recommend going out and committing sin to get extra credit, you might find the making amends part to be a bit more difficult than its worth :).


Mike L

9:47 PM  
Blogger Cura Animarum said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Cura Animarum said...

Hi Crystal, I forgot to thank you for the link. Glad you liked the post. You pose great questions about the resurrection. I've always kind of looked at the appearances as more good storytelling, the authors trying to communicate as best they can a truly indescribable state of being. Their focus always seems to be less on understanding what really happened to Jesus (and subsequently us) physically after the resurrection and more on what this event (and subsequently our share in it through baptism) means for how we live the lives we have right now.

That being said, Rolheiser ran a column last week discussing the alterations in the basic physics of creation that the resurrection must have resulted in; The Resurrection of Jesus and Physical Creation

Love physics, love Christ, neat to see the two spoken about in the same breath.

2:25 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Cura,

Thanks for the link - it looks to be a really interesting article.

Though I do have questions about the resurrection appearances, I like them a lot and I want to believe they really happened. I think that latest Jesus movie from the BBC, The Passion, had Jesus appearing to Peter after the resurrection, but no one else (non-disciples) can't see him, which to me makes it seem like a hallucination. Guess I'm still a literalist in some ways :)

2:35 PM  

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