This week we celebrate Easter Sunday. Except, we are celebrating at home, watching Mass on TV, and practicing “social distancing.” So, for the first time in, oh, about 2,000 years, most of Christendom is unable to gather with fellow believers to celebrate the Resurrection.
But you know what? Just because we have to stay home, we still can proclaim: “Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”
I am amazed by people who truly do NOT believe Jesus rose from the dead, and yet are still convinced Christianity is a wonderful religion. These folks believe that Jesus taught some terrific things about social and moral issues, and if we all just would follow those teachings the world would be a much better place.
Now, there’s no doubt in my mind that if we all followed Jesus’ teachings the world indeed would be a much better place. But Jesus’ view on charity, compassion, and society’s obligation to the poor was not His main message—nor was it a new message, as many philosophies before and after the time of Jesus had “love your neighbor” and “do unto others” as the basis of social morality.
Jesus’ main message was Himself. Specifically, that He alone could forgive our sins, He alone could pay the price for our transgressions by dying on the cross, and He alone—pay close attention here—could conquer death once and for all by rising from the grave.
St. Paul makes it abundantly clear that without the Resurrection, Christianity is nothing special. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote: “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….For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised, and your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If only for this life have we hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all” (1 Cor 15:13-14, 16-19).
That really says it all: if Jesus did not in fact rise from the grave, our Christian faith is pitiful, pathetic, useless.
So, as I said, it really amazes me that there are so many people who say something like, “Well, we all know that sophisticated, modern people understand that a resurrection can’t really happen. But that’s OK, as long as we focus on Jesus’ wonderful teachings about love and forgiveness, and hold hands and sing ‘Cumbaya,’ then the whole world will be happy.”
Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. If Jesus’ body remained dead and rotting in the tomb, then in the grand scheme of things, our faith is worthless. Oh sure, this brand of Christianity might make people feel good for a while, but it is powerless over mankind’s biggest problem: death.
If you, too, are having trouble accepting the claim that Jesus really rose from the dead, don’t fret; you’re in good company. After all, it is a very startling claim, which flies in the face of everything we experience in our day-to-day lives. But don’t forget: what makes a miracle a miracle is the fact it is rare. If it occurred every day, it wouldn’t be a miracle!
The fact that we exist is a divine miracle. Our minds, our emotions, our physical bodies are far too complex to have come into existence without the supernatural creative power of God. So, this tells us that miracles can occur.
If the Almighty Creator can create life out of non-living material, He certainly can bring back to life a person who has died, if He so chooses. And that’s exactly what He did, 2,000 years ago, in a graveyard on the outskirts of Jerusalem! Alleluia!
So, on this celebration of the most momentous event in world history, the Resurrection, let’s focus on the risen Lord. It is true, He has truly risen! The reality of the Resurrection not only make Christianity vibrant and powerful, it also gives us hope and joy. Alleluia! Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!