We meditated yesterday on the latest Biblical scholarship about Resurrection as laid out by Bruce Chilton and, more briefly, John Dominic Crossan.  I posited that a look into some of our greatest mystics might underscore the insights they offer.

The Common Hymnal’s “Rise” – an anthem of resurrection. Originally posted to YouTube by Common Hymnal.

Let us consider, for example, Thomas Aquinas.  Though he wrote in the thirteenth century, he echoes Chilton and Crossan of the twenty-first century when he talks about the “first” and “second” resurrections.

He speaks of a “double Resurrection” wherein the first is Waking Up in this lifetime.  He implies that if we do this correctly, we don’t have to worry about the second.  

Aquinas explains the “first resurrection” this way: “First, let us try to rise spiritually from the soul’s death, brought on by our sins, to that life of justice obtained through penitence: ‘Rise, you who sleep, and rise from the dead; and Christ shall enlighten you’ (Eph.5:14).  This is the first resurrection: ‘blessed and holy is one who has part in the first resurrection’ (John 20:6).’”  

“Wake Up” call to get involved in the work of climate justice. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

Being asleep is a kind of death from which we need to rise up and resurrect.  The first resurrection is about Waking Up.  He cites Paul: “’As Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also must walk in newness of life’ (Rom. 6:4).  The new life is the life of justice renewing the soul and leading it to the life of glory.”    

How prevalent is the sleepfulness of which Aquinas speaks?  It would appear to be universal, since Kabir, the fifteenth century Indian mystic, tells us: “You have been sleeping for millions and millions of years.  Why not wake up this morning?”  

Aquinas invokes Paul with an image from Isaiah 60.1: ‘Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem; for your light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.  ‘Rise from a neglect of good works, you who sleep.  ‘How long will you sleep, O sluggard?’  (Prov. 6:9) ‘Shall he that sleep rise again no more?’ (Ps 41:9).” 

Growing beyond human limitations. Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash.

Says Aquinas: “There is a double resurrection, one of the body, when the soul rejoins body, the other spiritual, when soul reunites to God.  Christ’s bodily resurrection produces both in us—though he himself never rose again spiritually, for he had never been separated from God.” 

For Aquinas, our being asleep is being separated from God.  It is also succumbing to acedia, the capital sin we often translate as sloth but that has a far richer meaning that includes depression, despair, passivity, boredom–in short couchpotato-itis.  Aquinas defines acedia as “the lack of energy to begin new things.”  We find it everywhere today, it is a “sign of our times,” and that is why we created a new word for it, namely couchpotato-itis. 

Its cure is Waking Up.  How does that happen?  Aquinas proposes that zeal comes from an intense experience of love, beauty or goodness. Yes, beauty and falling in love are the cure for acedia and being asleep.  The Via Positiva awakens us.  

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times, pp. 166-168. 

And Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, pp. 361ff, 114.

Banner Image: A Brisk sunrise. Photo by Tim J on Unsplash.

Do you recognize your experiences of the Via Positiva, awe, wonder, beauty, goodness as resurrection experiences?  What follows from that?

Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him.  He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French).  He  gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way. 
“The teaching of Aquinas comes through will a fullness and an insight that has never been present in English before and [with] a vital message for the world today.” ~ Fr. Bede Griffiths (Afterword).
Foreword by Rupert Sheldrake

Consciousness & Meditation: A Deep Dive with Rupert Sheldrake, Matthew Fox, & Satish Kumar.
7pm-9pm BST/11am PT/12pm MST/1pm CST/2pm EST
Cost: 20 pounds (approx. $28)
Register here
Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Share this meditation


Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox is made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation

Search Meditations





Receive our daily meditations

2 thoughts on “Aquinas on Resurrecting in this Lifetime”

  1. Avatar

    Thomas Aquinas was probably the greatest Catholic theologian. He abandoned writing Summa Theologiae after his own second resurrection. As he said: “All that I have written seems to me like straw compared with what has now been revealed to me.”

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Ron, I too agree with you in that Thomas Aquinas was the greatest Catholic Theologian. And then he had his awakening. Perhaps he heeded the call of the Preacher: “of the making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh” (Ecclesiastes 12:12).

Leave a Comment

To help moderate the volume of responses, the Comment field is limited to 1500 characters (roughly 300 words), with one comment per person per day.

Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the day's Meditation.

As always, we look forward to your comments!!
The Daily Meditation Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join us in meditation that supports your compassionate action

Receive Matthew Fox's Daily Meditation by subscribing below: