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Easter Sunday: The Risen Jesus is Our Hope
By Fr. James Farfaglia
April 3rd, 2010
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Because Jesus is physically alive, his Church is visible. Because Jesus is corporeal, the sacraments are visible aqueducts of his divine life. Because Jesus physically transcends time and space, he remains with us in the Eucharist as the "medicine of immortality" (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1405). The empty tomb and the neatly folded burial cloths illustrate that redemption is not only for the soul, but for the body as well.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (CATHOLIC ONLINE) - The resurrection of Jesus is a reality beyond doubt. The liturgical season of Easter fills us with immense joy and profound hope. However, each time we contemplate the gospel passages detailing the resurrection of Jesus we are faced with a sense of strangeness. The barriers of time and space no longer apply to him. The Lord appears and disappears with shocking suddenness. He continually demonstrates his physical reality. The Apostles and the disciples see him, hear him, and eat with him. Thomas is told to touch his wounds. The stone rolled away from the entrance, and the carefully folded burial cloths direct our gaze to the physical. He has truly risen.
The disbelief and uncertainty evidenced by those who saw him testify to an apparent strangeness in the appearance of the newly risen Christ. Slowly they came to recognize him, but they still struggled with doubt. Their response shows us that although the risen Jesus is the same Jesus that died on Calvary; his physical reality is now different than before. The body of the risen Lord is indeed his physical body, but he now moves about with a glorified body.
Repeatedly the gospels stress that something extraordinary has occurred. The Lord is tangible, but he has been transformed. His life is different from what it once was. His glorified body transcends the limitations of time and space. For this reason, he can pass through the closed door of the Upper Room, and appear and disappear as he desires. At times his disciples cannot recognize him precisely because their physical reality moves within time and space, and the Lord's physical reality is no longer subject to time and space, although he exists within time and space.
The clarity of the physical reality of the risen Jesus provides us with the certainty of the existence of the Lord and the veracity of everything that he has taught us. The empty tomb and the neatly folded burial cloths illustrate that redemption is not only for the soul, but for the body as well.
Applied to our practical daily living, the reality of the Risen Jesus fills us with profound peace. There is no need to worry or to fear. He is truly with us. With Jesus, we know that we are journeying, not to the sunset, but to the sunrise. We enter into a new relationship with God when we really believe that God is as Jesus told us that he is. We become absolutely sure of his love. We become absolutely convinced that he is above all else a redeeming God. The fear of suffering and death vanishes, for suffering and death means going to the one God who is the awesome God of love. In reality, our life long journey is a journey to the eternal Easter in Heaven.
When we truly believe, we enter into a new relationship with life itself. When we make Jesus our way of life, life becomes new. Life is clad with a new loveliness, a new light and a new strength. When we embrace Jesus as our Lord and Savior, when we develop a personal relationship with him, we realize that life does not end, it changes and it goes from incompletion to completion, from imperfection to perfection, from time to eternity.
When we truly believe in Jesus, we are resurrected in this life because we are freed from the fear and worry that are characteristic of a godless life; we are freed from the unhappiness of a life filled with sin; we are freed from the loneliness of a life without meaning. When we walk with Jesus and follow his way, life becomes so powerful that it cannot die but must find in death the transition to a higher life.
The bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead makes our entire journey to eternal life tangible, real, certain, and credible. Because Jesus is physically alive, his Church is visible. Because Jesus is corporeal, the sacraments are visible aqueducts of his divine life. Because Jesus physically transcends time and space, he remains with us in the Eucharist as the "medicine of immortality" (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1405). Because Jesus has truly risen from the dead and ascended to the Father, we await with joyful hope his return in glory.
Nevertheless, despite the victory of Jesus over death, the attack of evil continues.
The sacrifice of Christ on the cross is unique. His death on Calvary completes and surpasses all the other sacrifices of the Old Testament. Nevertheless, Christ´s reign is to be fulfilled with his Second Coming in glory. Until that day occurs, Satan continues his attack even though he has been already conquered definitively by Christ´s sacrifice on Calvary (cf. CCC 671).
In our own times, it is not hard to notice an ever-increasing presence of evil powers in the world. The battle continues and it seems as if humanity is out of control.
The perversions of a world that has rejected the Savior of the world continues to carry much of humanity down the blind road of self-destruction. The crisis of our age is rooted in the presumption that we can decide for ourselves what is good and evil without reference to God.
The reality of the risen Jesus fills us with peace and consolation because he is truly with us. His resurrection assures us of his final victory over evil. The genuineness of Easter keeps us from worry, fear, and discouragement. It sustains us in times of trial and it opens the heart to the expectation of eternal life. However, this Easter should inspire us to be apostles of life because Jesus is the resurrection and the life.
"We are the people of life because God, in his unconditional love, has given us the Gospel of life and by this same Gospel we have been transformed and saved. We have been ransomed by the ´Author of life´ at the price of his precious blood. Through the waters of Baptism we have been made a part of him, as branches which draw nourishment and fruitfulness from the one tree. Interiorly renewed by grace of the Spirit, who is the Lord and giver of life, we have become a people for life and we are called to act accordingly" (Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II, #79.1)
The culture of death makes itself manifest in numerous ways throughout our modern world. Abortion, euthanasia, excessive use of capital punishment and continuous wars are a concern to us all. However, of all of these terrible manifestations of the culture of death, abortion is the worse of them all.
If we can destroy innocent human life inside of the womb of a mother, and this no longer shocks us or concerns us, then nothing else will ever shock us or gain our concern.
If a society can justify the killing of an innocent unborn child, then there is no limit as to what else a society can justify regarding any other person.
This is why if we really desire to have respect for the sick, the elderly and the dying; if we really want to curb the incorrect use of capital punishment; and if we truly desire lasting peace throughout the world, the first thing that we must assure is the right to life of the unborn child.
As long as abortion remains an unchecked course of action, violence and injustice will continue to submerge the world in a continual spiral of chaos.
The Church must not, and cannot remain silent.
The issue of abortion becomes obscured when it is lumped together on an equal basis with every other social issue that concerns us. Wisdom allows us to make objective distinctions and carefully understand the causes and effects of sinful human behavior on society.
Ideologies only polarize the Church and obscure the efficacy of its mission here on earth.
As we joyfully celebrate the bodily resurrection of the Risen Lord, let us renew our commitment to the cause of life and the building up of a new culture of life.
However, given the present intensity of the battle for life, many have become discouraged. Many maybe tired of the battle.
My dear friends remember the words of St. Teresa of Avila: "Let nothing trouble you. Let nothing frighten you. Everything passes. God never changes. Patience obtains all. Whoever has God, wants for nothing. God alone is enough" (Poesías 30).
Abandon yourself into the loving hands of an awesome God that loves us unconditionally. Allow yourself to be purified. Do not let yourself be consumed by anger, anxiety, frustration, discouragement or resentment. Enter into the dark night of the spirit. Do not be afraid. Allow yourself to be a transparent witness of the God of life.
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