CCC 626 Since the “Author of life” who was killed1 is the same “living one [who has] risen”,2 the divine person of the Son of God necessarily continued to possess his human soul and body, separated from each other by death:
By the fact that at Christ’s death his soul was separated from his flesh, his one person is not itself divided into two persons; for the human body and soul of Christ have existed in the same way from the beginning of his earthly existence, in the divine person of the Word; and in death, although separated from each other, both remained with one and the same person of the Word.3
CCC 640 “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”4 The first element we encounter in the framework of the Easter events is the empty tomb. In itself it is not a direct proof of Resurrection; the absence of Christ’s body from the tomb could be explained otherwise.5 Nonetheless the empty tomb was still an essential sign for all. Its discovery by the disciples was the first step toward recognizing the very fact of the Resurrection. This was the case, first with the holy women, and then with Peter.6 The disciple “whom Jesus loved” affirmed that when he entered the empty tomb and discovered “the linen cloths lying there”, “he saw and believed”.7 This suggests that he realized from the empty tomb’s condition that the absence of Jesus’ body could not have been of human doing and that Jesus had not simply returned to earthly life as had been the case with Lazarus.8
CCC 641 Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste because the Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One.9 Thus the women were the first messengers of Christ’s Resurrection for the apostles themselves.10 They were the next to whom Jesus appears: first Peter, then the Twelve. Peter had been called to strengthen the faith of his brothers,11 and so sees the Risen One before them; it is on the basis of his testimony that the community exclaims: “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”12
CCC 643 Given all these testimonies, Christ’s Resurrection cannot be interpreted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact. It is clear from the facts that the disciples’ faith was drastically put to the test by their master’s Passion and death on the cross, which he had foretold.13 The shock provoked by the Passion was so great that at least some of the disciples did not at once believe in the news of the Resurrection. Far from showing us a community seized by a mystical exaltation, the Gospels present us with disciples demoralized (“looking sad”14) and frightened. For they had not believed the holy women returning from the tomb and had regarded their words as an “idle tale”.15 When Jesus reveals himself to the Eleven on Easter evening, “he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.”16
CCC 652 Christ’s Resurrection is the fulfillment of the promises both of the Old Testament and of Jesus himself during his earthly life.17 The phrase “in accordance with the Scriptures”18 indicates that Christ’s Resurrection fulfilled these predictions.
CCC 2174 Jesus rose from the dead “on the first day of the week.”19 Because it is the “first day,” the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the “eighth day” following the sabbath,20 it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord’s Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday:
We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish sabbath, but also the first day] when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.21
1 Acts 3:15.
2 Lk 24:5-6.
3 St. John Damascene, De fide orth. 3, 27: PG 94, 1097.
4 Lk 24:5-6.
5 Cf. Jn 20:13; Mt 28:11-15.
6 Cf. Lk 24:3, 12, 22-23.
7 Jn 20:2, 6, 8.
8 Cf. Jn 11:44; 20:5-7.
9 Mk 16:1; Lk 24:1; Jn 19:31,42.
10 Cf Lk 24:9-10; Mt 28:9-10; Jn 20:11-18.
11 Cf I Cor 15:5; Lk 22:31-32.
12 Lk 24:34, 36.
13 Cf. Lk 22:31-32.
14 1 Lk 24:17; cf. Jn 20:19.
15 Lk 24:11; cf. Mk 16:11, 13.
16 Mk 16:14.
17 Cf. Mt 28:6; Mk 16:7; Lk 24:6-7, 26-27, 44-48.
18 Cf. I Cor 15:3-4; cf. the Nicene Creed.
19 Cf. Mt 28:1; Mk 16:2; Lk 24:1; Jn 20:1.
20 Cf. Mk 16:1; Mt 28:1.
21 St. Justin, I Apol. 67: PG 6, 429 and 432.