In the Creed we recite, “He rose again from the dead.” This seems to indicate that he rose before? Can you clarify?
— David in Jacksonville
In the English translation of both the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed, we say that Jesus “rose again” on the third day. Understandably, this can be confusing, as typically the definition that is used for the word “again” is “another time” or “once more.” This would imply that there had been more than one resurrection of Jesus. However, there are other definitions of “again,” and the one that may be best suited is “anew.” This definition allows us to understand that Jesus only rose from the dead once, as well as implying that there is a difference between the body of Christ before he died and the resurrected body of Christ.
We hear about the qualities of the resurrected body of Christ many times: In John 20:14-16, Mary Magdalene sees Jesus but does not recognize him, but instead thinks he is the gardener. We also hear in Luke 24:13-35 that the two Disciples on the road to Emmaus were prevented from recognizing Jesus, until the breaking of the bread. In John 20:19 and John 20:26, Jesus appears to the Disciples in the midst of the locked room, demonstrating, again, that there has been a change in Jesus’ body. This does not mean that Jesus is a ghost, but rather the body has been glorified.
In Paragraph 645 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we’re reminded that Jesus is appearing in the same body that underwent the Passion, but that this body possesses the “new properties of a glorious body.” So, by this, we can understand that Jesus has risen again, as he proclaimed that he would do in John 10:17-18, when he said, “This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.” Again, this does not mean that he has died and risen more than once, but rather that he rises anew. As we have celebrated the Easter Season, it is a wonderful thing to reflect on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and what that means for us. It is the confirmation of new life, new life in Christ, and the “principle and source of our future Resurrection” (CCC 655).
Father Adam Prichard is chaplain of St. Anthony Hospital in Effingham.