Wednesday, January 6, 2010

St. Athanasius on the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus

For one of my classes we are reading St. Athanasius' treatise On The Incarnation. In this text he is seeking to demonstrate that Jesus was indeed fully man, as well as being fully divine. At one point he is trying to defending the resurrection of Jesus. I found it to be a good meditation on how Jesus, who lives today - in the here and now - is active in the world and in our lives. Here is what he said:

Dead men cannot take effective action; their power of influence on others lasts only till the grave. Deeds and actions that energise others belong only to the living. Well then, look at the facts in this case. The Savior is working mightily among men, every day. He is invisibly persuading numbers of people all over the world, both within and beyond the Greek-speaking world, to accept His faith and be obedient to His teaching. Can anyone, in face of this, still doubt that He has risen and lives, or rather that He is Himself the Life? Does a dead man prick the consciences of men, so that they throw all the traditions of their fathers to the winds and bow down before the teaching of Christ? If He is no longer active in the world, as He must needs be if He is dead, how is it that He makes the living to cease from their activities, the adulterer from his adultery, the murderer from murdering, the unjust from avarice, while the profane and godless man becomes religious? If He did not rise, but is still dead, how is it that He routs and persecutes and overthrows the false gods, who unbelievers think to be alive, and the evil spirits whom they worship? For where Christ is named, idolatry is destroyed and the fraud of evil spirits is exposed; indeed, no such spirit can endure that Name, Who lives, not of one dead; and, more than that, it is the work of God. It would be absurd to say that the evil spirits who He drives out and the idols which He destroys are alive, but that He Who drives out and destroys, and Whom they themselves acknowledge to be Son of God, is dead.

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