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The Glory Of The Resurrection

March 30, 2024 Frontpage No Comments

By DONALD DeMARCO

The natural lifespan of Christ’s existence on Earth extends from the Nativity to His death on the Cross. His birth was foretold by the prophets and was expected. The Magi followed a star, confident that they would find the newborn King. Their expectation was fully realized. Birth is

well known and easy for anyone to grasp. But the Resurrection, which followed Christ’s death, is something else. There is a finality about death. For Christ to rise from the grave is neither something that could be expected nor is it something that is well known.

In the dawn of Easter Sunday morning, several women approached the tomb where the Body of Christ had been laid. They brought spices with them with the intent of anointing the dead body. The thought of a Resurrection was furthest from their minds. As Bishop Fulton J. Sheen has commented in his Life of Christ, “The only thought the women had was to anoint the body of the dead Christ — an act that was born of despairing and as yet unbelieving love.”

Their love, however, was rewarded and their faith restored. When they reached the tomb, they found that the huge stone that was placed against it had been removed. They did not find the Body of their Master, as the Magi found the newborn babe, but encountered an angel whose countenance was “as lightning and his raiment as snow.” The angel said to the women, “No need to be dismayed; you have come to look for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified; He has risen again; He is not here” (Mark 12:6-8).

Easter, then, transcends Christmas because it transcends human comprehension. And yet, as St. Paul has remarked, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified

about God that He raised Christ from the dead” (1 Cor. 15). Good Friday without Easter Sunday would have been the premature death of Christianity. Ironically, if there had been no Easter, Christmas would never have been celebrated.

The Catholic Church celebrates the Nativity as a Joyful Mystery, but identifies Easter as one that is Glorious. Christmas invites us to be born again. Easter tells us that even if we should die, we shall live again: “I am the Resurrection and the Life, He who believes in Me even if he should die, shall live” (John 11:25-26). Being born again is but a prelude to life after death. It opens the door to eternal life. Life on Earth is but an apprenticeship to an afterlife that has no end. But it is an apprenticeship that exacts a quantum of suffering. As Bishop Sheen has stated, “Unless there is a Good Friday, there can be no Easter Sunday.”

The reality of the Resurrection was difficult for the Apostles to accept. Christ had said to them, “O foolish ones and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things before entering into His glory?” (John 24:25-26). Doubting

Thomas exemplified this slowness to believe until he placed his finger into the wound in Christ’s side before he could believe? (John 20:25).​

Easter tests the fullness of our faith. For many, Christ is merely an exceptionally good human being who said many wise things. The nonbeliever can accept this. But the true Christian must accept more. Easter teaches us that Christ rose from the dead and lives forever at the right hand of the Father and will come again in Glory. It also teaches us that in being united with Christ, we, too, shall live forever.

Unlike the Nativity (or even His Crucifixion and death), the Resurrection is an utterly new kind of event. At the same time, it is an event that is continually renewed in people of faith.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his book, Jesus of Nazareth, remarks that Christ “continues to knock gently at the doors of our hearts and slowly opens our eyes if we open our doors to Him.” The Resurrection attests to the fact that Christ is continually available to us. “Do not abandon

yourselves to despair,” St. John Paul II has advised: “We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” We might also say that Easter transforms the inevitability of death into the invincibility of life.

An insightful humorist once quipped that Easter is the only time that you can put all your eggs into one basket. His remark is well taken. In this instance, the basket symbolizes hope as a unifying principle, and the eggs as containing our better selves who will emerge when the shells

are cracked open.

Easter does not require a diversified portfolio. It is all about hope.

Easter is the most important feast day on the religious calendar because it represents a culmination. Yet, though it is the culmination of the life of Christ, it is also a beginning for all His followers. According to St. Paul, “death is swallowed up in victory” for those who trust in

Christ’s death and Resurrection. And, the First Epistle of St. Peter declares that God has given believers “a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

Finally, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI,            “The darkness of the previous days is driven away the moment Jesus rises from the grave and Himself becomes God’s pure light.”

(Dr. Donald DeMarco is the author of 42 books and a former corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy of Life. He and his wife, Mary, have 5 children and 13 grandchildren.)

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