Friday, July 15, 2016

Patristic Wisdom: Looking to Sunday

Resurrection of the Flesh by Luca Signorelli
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.  For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.  (1 Thess 4:13-18)

Here he proceeds now to start his discourse concerning the Resurrection.  And why? … Resurrection was sufficient to comfort him that was grieving.  But that which is now said is sufficient also to make the Resurrection eminently worthy of credit.… Therefore to afflict yourselves for the departed is to act like those who have no hope.  And they justly, for a soul that knows nothing of the Resurrection, but thinks that this death is death, naturally afflicts itself, and bewails and mourns intolerably as for lost ones.  But you who expects a resurrection, on what account do you lament?  To lament then is the part of those who have no hope.

John Chrysostom, Homilies on First Thessalonians

All men rise again, but let no one lose heart, and let not the just grieve at the common lot of rising again, since he awaits the chief fruit of his virtue.  All indeed shall rise again, but, as says the Apostle, “each in his own order.”  The fruit of the Divine Mercy is common to all, but the order of merit differs.  The day gives light to all, the sun warms all, the rain fertilizes the possessions of all with genial showers.

We are all born, and we shall all rise again, but in each state, whether of living or of living again, grace differs and the condition differs.  For, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, the dead shall rise incorruptible and we shall be changed.”  Moreover, in death itself some rest, and some live.  Rest is good, but life is better.  And so the Apostle rouses him that is resting to life, saying: “Rise, you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.”  Therefore he is aroused that he may live, that he may be like to Paul, that he may be able to say: “For we who are alive shall not precede those that are asleep.”  He speaks not here of the common manner of life, and the breath which we all alike enjoy, but of the merit of the resurrection.  For, having said, “And the dead which are in Christ shall rise first,” he adds further, “And we who are alive shall together with them be caught up in the clouds to meet Christ in the air.”

Ambrose, On Belief in the Resurrection 2:92-93

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