In our contemporary world so full of tragedy, violence, and harm, many choose desolation and despair. Today, however, the Christian believer – breaking the spell of darkness – proclaims a simple yet heartfelt Easter “Alleluia!”
In opposition to the distress and anguish of a fallen world, the believer knows and announces that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. This powerful truth gives the Christian both light and radiating hope.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the heart of the Christian message. The entire gospel and the possibility of living as disciples who follow Jesus’ way of love and mercy depend on the resurrection: They rise or fall based on this singular event.
As Saint Paul wrote in his First Letter to the Corinthians: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.”
All of Jesus’ teachings, miracles, signs, and healings are completed and made credible by his resurrection from the dead. By imploding death on itself, Jesus Christ manifests his power over sin and its consequences and he demonstrates his authority over the circumstances of life.
On account of this reality, the believer knows in her heart that she can trust him, that he is good, and that his merciful kindness will triumph. Regardless of the state of affairs, and the hurt or confusion that might accompany them, the Christian knows that all will end well – either in this life or the next – for those who love God.
There are some who have attempted to diminish the claims of the resurrection. They argue that the event was a spiritual rather than a bodily resurrection. But such an assertion contradicts itself. The spirit of the Lord Jesus did not rise and leave his body behind in the tomb or anywhere else.
This would not have been a resurrection. Rather, the Lord’s spirit was reunited with his body and his body did rise. This was attested to by countless witnesses and by Jesus’ own insistence to have fellowship and eat with his disciples so that they would know that he was not a phantasm but a real person risen from the dead.
This is the faith of the Christian. It is not a naïve belief nor a creed based on cleverly devised myths. Christian believers do not rely on fantasies or wishful thinking.
Faith in the resurrection is grounded on an historical event and takes the Christian into the trenches of life. There is no room for simple-mindedness or misplaced fideism. No Christian, true to her faith, is a patsy for anything.
In the way in which she lives her life, the Christian believer displays the validity and real-life significance of the resurrection.
The knowledge of Jesus Christ’s victory over sin and death summons the believer onto a path of mercy and benevolence. Living as a daughter of the resurrection calls the Christian out of herself and a materialistic worldview and into a marvelous, eternal horizon of beauty and goodness.
The Christian, therefore, hopes beyond herself and the things of this world and finds meaning and purpose even in the midst of disappointment, disaster, and adversity.
When it would be more satisfying to seek vengeance or write people off, the Christian is called to see something more in her neighbor and work towards reconciliation. When times would encourage and even reward pride, vanity, and greed, the believer names these bad spirits and labors toward humility, charity, and generosity.
When bad things happen and it would be easier to succumb to nihilism – “it’s all evil and without meaning” – or skepticism – “there is no explanation” – the Christian looks to the glory of the Resurrection and prays, seeking answers and illumination into God’s providence.
In this way, the believer lives according to her Paschal faith, rejecting the empty show of this world and avoiding the lure of evil, and seeks to live in the freedom and glory of the Lord’s resurrection.
And so, as Christian believers throughout the world celebrate this Easter Sunday, they rejoice over an historical event: The Lord is truly Risen!
And they desire to deepen in their love for him as they renew again their commitment to follow him in the way of the resurrection, in the way of love, mercy and peace.