Fulgentius was a bishop –a theologian it turns out– who in an obscure treatise on forgiveness written centuries ago, gave us a coherent explanation of what it means to die and rise with Christ both spiritually and corporeally.
In that treatise, the good bishop was speaking about the second coming of Christ and the events surrounding it. Those of us who are transformed by Our Lord “undergo a change which is God’s free gift. Those who in this life have been changed from evil to good are promised a future change as a reward.”
Our first resurrection, then, is through justification and spiritual rebirth. “Unless you are born again…you shall not enter the kingdom of God.” It is a grace, an initial change effected by God’s gift, says Fulgentius.” Like our Lord we become new Adams (and new Eves) and are new persons in Christ. ” Later on,” Fulgentius continues, “through bodily resurrection, the transformation of the just will be completed.” This transformation will result in a “perfect, abiding, unchangeable glorification.” Our second resurrection completes us. (Taken from the first reading, Monday in the 33rd week in ordinary time by St. Fulgentius from his treatise on forgiveness.)
And, the purpose of all this change? The Baltimore Catechism states it simply in it’s answer to the question: ” Why did God make me? God made me to show forth His goodness and to share with Him His everlasting happiness in heaven.” Our Western culture leaves no room for God, nor for a reason that we are here, the motive for our existence. God loves us and the world doesn’t seem to care.
If you think the question of where God, Who is Uncreated Being, could have possibly come from is a stumper, even more incredibly to ask the question “When?” concerning an eternal being is absurd. These questions buckle my knees. (I know these are useless inquiries concerning an Uncreated Being Who always was.) And yet, the mind keeps seeking understanding.
But let me ask a simpler question: Can your judgement accept a moment when you were not? Do you know how you or any being was formed and who had the recipe? Then, why not through Faith accept the first resurrection: to die to self and rise with Christ. The second resurrection is the completion for which we hope. That hope, the scriptures tell us, will not disappoint us.