Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 25, 2002
The resurrection proves our faith
By FR. JOHN SPICER
"He descended to the dead." Though Jesus was truly God, he was also truly human. So in death, as in life, he shared fully in our humanness.
Thus, "He descended to the dead. "But his was a triumphant descent. For he joined all God's people who had died and shared with them the fullness of life which he had merited.
He was soon to share this same good news with his followers through his resurrection appearances.
"On the third day."The "third day" has a prominent place in Jewish history.
It was on the third day of creation that God brought forth all the "plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind. . . . And God saw that it was good" (Genesis 1:12).
And in the book of Exodus we read, "The Lord said to Moses . . . prepare for the third day, because on the third day, the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people" (Exodus 19:10-11).
Again in the Book of Hosea, we hear Hosea say to the Jewish people, "on the third day, he (the Lord) will raise us up" (6:2). So "the third day" meant good news to the Jewish people.
"He rose again." What a breath-taking phrase! From deep despondency the followers of Jesus rose to the very height of joy in seeing the risen Lord.
They could hardly believe their eyes. For at that time no Jew believed in a resurrection of a single person. All the Jews (except the Sadducees) believed in a general resurrection of all the just on the last day.
They had come to that belief late in their history. It would have been impossible then for the Apostles and the other followers of Jesus to have imagined the resurrection.
It simply has to have happened, else they could not, absolutely could not, have believed that Jesus had risen.
It is not easy for us to grasp the crucial importance of the resurrection. Our best bet is taking to mind and heart Paul's words to the Corinthians, "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. . . .
"For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. . . . But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died" (1 Corinthians 15:12-20).
For this truth, not only did Peter and Paul die, but also hundreds of thousands of other Christians did likewise. What great thanks we owe to them!
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