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Monday, January 21, 2013

The Resurrection

This is an adaptation of an essay that appears in my first book of meditations around the Nicene Creed.
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (I Corinthians 15:20)

During the summer of 2005, I led a Children’s Liturgy of the Word. Each week I guided youngsters through the wonders of our Catholic faith. We studied Scripture and Church teaching about such holy mysteries as the Trinity, the Incarnation, Resurrection, Christ’s atonement, His miracles and His Presence in the Eucharist.

Where some adults who’ve heard the stories for decades might nod off to sleep, children’s eyes grow wide with wonder. Where some adults hesitate with doubt, children receive the ancient truths with uncomplicated faith.

I met one of those children during one of our liturgies. The second-grader had been told, “People killed Jesus, and He is dead.” He shared this information with me in a low, somber voice, glancing at me once or twice, and then dropping his gaze to the floor.

I bent and looked into his face. “Yes,” I said. “Some people killed Jesus. But three days later, He came back to life. He is alive. Right now. Today.” I emphasized the word, “Today.”

I hope to never forget the child’s face. His eyes suddenly brightened. His countenance lifted. He literally straightened his shoulders as if a weight had been removed. He pumped his arm and nearly shouted, “Yes!”

No wonder the Lord Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) That youngster’s faith is something every adult in the Church would do well to emulate.

St. Paul proclaimed, “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. (1 Corinthians 15:13-14)

The apostle continued, “Behold, I tell you a mystery. We . . . will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed . . . [and] then the word that is written shall come about: "Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:50-55)

The bodily resurrection of Christ is the­ linchpin – the cornerstone -- of Christianity. No wonder liberal theologians, philosophers and teachers have, for two thousand years, attacked the Resurrection. Destroy it, and Christianity loses its authority to declare Christ alone is the door to eternal life, that no one comes to the Father except through Him. Destroy the Resurrection and we have no assurance of forgiveness of sin.

If Jesus died and that was the end of it, then the Communion of Saints, Christ’s Presence in the Eucharist, and our hope of heaven is all a farce.

Yet, this is the glorious truth you and I are privileged to proclaim each week when we profess our certainty that Christ died and was buried . . .

And on the third day, rose from the grave.

If that doesn’t stir something inside us to shout, “Hallelujah,” if that incredible reality doesn't move us to a holy awe -- then maybe we should check
our pulses.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, with child-like faith, I believe in Your resurrection. Have mercy on me and permit me to share eternal life with Mary, the virgin Mother of God, the apostles, and all the saints who have done Your will throughout the ages. Amen.

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