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IF CHRIST HAS NOT RISEN OUR FAITH IS IN VAIN

Father Francis's picture
Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord

Acts. 10:34, 37-43; Col.3:1-4 & Jn. 20:1-9

The resurrection of the Lord on that first Easter Sunday is the cornerstone of our Catholic faith. For if Jesus had not risen from the dead then, as Saint Paul says, our faith is in vain and, worse still, we remain in our sins. And if that were the case, then we are wasting our time.

However, the Good News is that Jesus, having died on the Cross, has truly risen from the dead and that those who believe in Him will have their sins forgiven, through the power of His name. Our contemporary world, which relies on critical rational explanations before accepting any truth, naturally finds it difficult to accept that Jesus rose from the dead. But our faith in the resurrection of Christ rests on a solid foundation, and has serious implications about the way we are called to live our lives if this faith is real.

The evidence of the resurrection is found in God’s prophetic words in the Old Testament through which He announced to the people beforehand that His Son would suffer and die and then rise again.

The prophet Isaiah, who described the Passion of Christ in his Song of the Suffering Servant, also implicitly refers to the resurrection, “If he offers his life in atonement, he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life …. His soul’s anguish over, he shall see the light and be content.”

King David prophesied the resurrection of Christ in Psalm 15: “And so my heart rejoices and soul is glad; even my body shall rest in safety. For You will not leave my soul among the dead, nor let your beloved know decay.”

Finally, the prophet Hosea refers to the resurrection of Jesus when he says, “He has struck us down and bandaged our wounds. After a day or two he will bring us back to life.”

The death and resurrection of Jesus were therefore not chance events, but were willed by God’s providence and meticulously brought about by God’s power.

The testimony of human eye witnesses to what happened in Jerusalem almost 2,000 years ago are another proof. Firstly, there was the empty tomb. The Apostles, who had seen Jesus die on the Cross and be buried, three days later found the tomb empty, with the linen cloths still lying there. And secondly, there were the appearances of the risen Jesus. This is the most important testimony.

As Saint Peter says in today’s first reading, he and the other Apostles were the special eye witnesses whom God had chosen. They saw the risen Jesus in the flesh. They heard Him, touched Him, and ate and drank with Him. If in our modern world an ordinary court of law can pass judgement on the basis of a sworn testimony of eye witnesses, then how much more solidly founded is our own faith in the resurrection of Jesus, given by the sworn testimony of the Apostles?

From the resurrection of Jesus, it follows that every person who is joined to Him through Baptism will also experience bodily resurrection, not immediately after death, but at the end of time. And so we proclaim our faith every Sunday saying, “We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.”

Baptism anticipates at a spiritual level what will happen later at our physical level. It makes us participate in the death and resurrection of Christ, first spiritually and then physically. At Baptism, we spiritually died to the world of sin, were buried and rose to a new life in the Spirit. This new life in Christ is hidden or buried in the midst of the world. Our physical death and burial will take place when our heart finally stops beating. Then at the end of time, our physical resurrection will take place to complete our participation in the death and resurrection of Christ.

Saint Paul exhorts us, as he did to the Colossians, to live this new life of Easter by fixing our eyes on the risen and glorified Christ in Heaven, and to live by His teaching. This means taking care not to be misled and deceived by the materialistic values of this transient world which would only leave us disillusioned in the end.

Lord Jesus, we know that You died and rose from the dead, and that You are the only Saviour of the world. In You alone will we find the meaning of life itself, and the fulfilment of the deepest longing of our heart.

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