Pope Francis: Christians Must Believe 'Jesus' Bodily Resurrection Was Real' or Faith Is Empty
Roman Catholic Church leader Pope Francis has said that even if it may be hard for some Christians, they must believe in the real and logical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, rather than interpreting it simply as a spiritual experience.
Francis said at a recent morning mass that Christians should embrace the "logic of the future," which promises that believers will rise in body and soul after death, like Jesus did.
"A spiritualistic piety, a nuanced piety is much easier; but to enter into the logic of the flesh of Christ, this is difficult. And this is the logic of the day after tomorrow. We will resurrect like the risen Christ, with our own flesh," the pontiff explained, according to Catholic News Service.
"Yesterday's logic is easy, today's logic is easy. Tomorrow's logic is easy: We will all die. But the logic of the day after tomorrow, that is difficult," he added.
The Vatican leader also read from the Apostle Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, which tackles some beliefs in the early Christian community that rejected the bodily resurrection of the dead.
"If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty, too, is our preaching; empty, too, your faith," St. Paul wrote.
Francis warned that some Christians "are afraid of the flesh" and may fall prey to "a certain type of Gnosticism," which rejects the bodily resurrection of Christ. The pope insisted, however, that Jesus did not rise "as a ghost," but in flesh and blood.
Francis has spoken out on the significance and power of Christ's resurrection on a number of occasions, and back in June hailed St. Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary and St. Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad, two new saints in the Catholic Church, as key examples for how to unite oneself to Jesus' Passion and death.
"In the Passion of Christ, we find God's response to the desperate and at times indignant cry that the experience of pain and death evokes in us," the pontiff said back then, according to Catholic News Agency.
"This was the experience of Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary, and Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad, who today are proclaimed saints. They remained deeply united to the passion of Jesus, and in them the power of his resurrection was revealed," he added.
Other Christian authors and theologians, including Jerry Newcombe, have also explored the scientific evidence behind the bodily resurrection of Jesus, such as the Shroud of Turn, the 14 feet by 3 feet linen cloth that some believe to be the actual burial cloth of Jesus.
While the Shroud has been the subject of much scientific investigation regarding its authenticity, Francis and other Christian leaders have hailed it as an important reminder of what Jesus went through.
"If it's a hoax, this is no ordinary hoax. The greater evidence argues for its authenticity. As some scientists put it, the Shroud is, if you will, a 'snapshot of the resurrection,'" Newcombe wrote in a op-ed published in The Christian Post in 2012.
"At the very moment Christ rose from the dead, something happened-a burst of radiation perhaps-that left a permanent mark on the front and back of the burial cloth that sandwiched the Man who wouldn't stay buried for long," he added.