I wrote the other day that resurrection is the most subversive act, which means that Easter is a holy-day of subversiveness. Today, I continue that theme with a theo-philosophical reflection on the importance of the resurrection of the body.
By contrast, Christians who believed in bodily resurrection seem to have regarded their own mortal coils as the crucial venues in which they were to live out their devotion to Christ. When these Christians were arraigned for their faith, they considered it genuine apostasy to give in to the gestures demanded by the Roman authorities. For them, inner devotion to Jesus had to be expressed in an outward faithfulness in their bodies—and they were ready to face martyrdom for their faith, encouraged by the prospect of bodily resurrection.
Some early Christians, then, recognized the importance of an individual, personal bodily resurrection. These bodies we have are not mere vessels of some ethereal soul that is really important. They are not, as Platonists, Cartesians, and other early Christians (and many protestants and confused Catholics) now think, burdens to the soul. The body is part of the self just as the soul is. The person expresses herself through the actions of the body which actions are willed through the power of the soul — to be philosophically precise. But what exists are neither bodies or souls or boths. What exists are persons — you and me, and Benedict XVI and the woman sleeping on the ground with her children because she has no job and no housing because her job was cut.
Resurrection of the body shows the importance of life in this world — and highlights the injustice of economic and political decisions that make homelessness a common experience.