Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 2, 2007
Christ's empty tomb witnesses our faithHeadline
The resurrection calls people away from sin
My Glass is Half Full
By MARK PICKUP
Those who truly fear God need not fear death. The reality of Easter teaches us this truth. Christ suffered and died, then overcame death itself to rise from the grave. He did not rise in human's imagination: that is the hell of make-believe. Make-believe is unbelief and unbelief is the ingredient of despair.
Our Lord Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead, wounds and all. He invited Thomas to touch his hands and side. The Gospel of John says, "Then he (Jesus) said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe'" (John 20:27.)
Thomas did not marvel at his own vivid imagination or hallucination. He was looking directly at the risen Jesus. Thomas responded to the physically resurrected Jesus in astonishment and truth, "My Lord and my God!"
His revelation went beyond the words he uttered: Jesus is God. The earth shaking truth Thomas declared was embraced by the early Church, reaffirmed by the Council of Nicaea 300 years later, and vigorously defended by the Church to this very day.
Christ's empty tomb is the cradle of the Church. It is upon the actual resurrection of Christ that real Christianity lives or dies.
The physical resurrection of Jesus Christ is too much for the secular mind to contemplate, and so many people throughout the ages have tried to deny it. The denials began within hours of Christ's resurrection when the soldiers who reported the empty tomb were paid to say that Jesus' disciples stole the body.
The resurrection of Jesus is unthinkable to secular humanity because it brings people face to face with the terrible prospect of God, Jesus as Messiah, and their own sin. The resurrection calls people away from their sinful lives to a new direction to become new creatures in Christ. John the Baptist called Jesus the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."
Deny, deny, deny
If a man's sinful life is more important to him than being right with God, then the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is repugnant. He must deny, deny, deny.
How Jesus rose from the dead is not for us to know, only that he rose from the dead and why it happened. The motivation behind Christ's life, death and resurrection was God's love for the world. God is calling you and me, and every other human being, to repentance and to reconcile with him through faith in Jesus Christ.
God loves humanity so much. He wants us to be with him forever. The means by which we can achieve that is faith in Christ who took on our sin at Calvary. Quite simply, the "why" of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection is inconceivable divine love.
We accept Christ's resurrection by faith and the testimony of those who saw him after his crucifixion. Jesus said to Thomas, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." That is you and me and millions of Christians throughout centuries since then. We live by faith, not sight.
If Christ did not rise from the dead, then neither shall his followers, and our faith is futile. St. Paul stated this in his first letter to the Corinthians. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then loved ones who have died are lost. If Christ did not rise from the dead then all I have known and hold dear is like a house of cards ready to come crashing down around me. The sooner the better, if Christ did not rise from the dead.
If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Christianity is nothing more than a cruel hoax and should be eradicated from the face of the earth.
But the resurrection of Jesus did occur. We have the testimonies of witnesses who personally saw him. They preferred death rather than to deny it. Over 67 million Christian martyrs throughout 2,000 years were beheaded, hanged, dismembered, burned, mutilated, disemboweled, flayed alive, bludgeoned and shot for their Christian faith.
I am not a martyr. But my lesser personal suffering from disease has brought me to the reality of the risen and living Christ. He has abided with me throughout 23 years of degenerative multiple sclerosis.
His presence becomes more real the sicker I become. I rest, knowing he will abide with me to the end. All I hold dear remains intact. I can declare with confidence the words of Job: "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and he shall stand at last on the earth. And after my skin is destroyed, this I know: That in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!" (Job 19:25-27.)
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.