An Ordinary Viewpoint

Impossible for Death

The Proclamation

In his first sermon on the first Pentecost, Saint Peter asserted what was ever to be and to always remain the center and heart of the Good News of Jesus Christ proclaimed by the Catholic Church down the ages: "God raised Him up, delivering Him from the pangs of death because it was impossible for death to hold Him in its power" (Acts of the Apostles 2:24). Easter, the celebration of the glorious resurrection of the Lord, enfolds the Old Testament into the New. As we say in our Creed, He rose "in fulfillment of the Scriptures" (Psalm 16:26-27; Psalm 110:1). The resurrection proclaims the startling but true and utterly new fact that Jesus Christ "not only was, but still is!".

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, wrote: "The process of coming to a resurrection-faith is analogous to what we saw in the case of the cross. Nobody had thought of a crucified Messiah. Now the fact was there, and it was necessary, on the basis of that fact, to take a fresh look at Scripture... Scripture yielded new insights in the light of the unexpected turn of events and...the fact then began to make sense. Admittedly, the new reading of Scripture could begin only after the resurrection, because it was only through the resurrection that Jesus was (seen to be) accredited as the One sent by God. Now the people had to search the Scriptures for both cross and resurrection, so as to understand them in a new way and thereby come to believe in Jesus as the Son of God. This presupposes that for the disciples the resurrection was just as real as the cross. It presupposes that they were simply overwhelmed by the reality, and that, after their initial hesitation and astonishment, they could no longer ignore that reality. It is truly He. He is alive. He has spoken to us. He has allowed us to touch Him even if He no longer belongs to us in the realm of the tangible, in the normal way. The paradox was indescribable. He was quite different, no mere resuscitated corpse, but One living anew and forever in the power of God."

In But Beyond

The Pope observes, ""The resurrection does not simply stand outside or above history. As something that breaks out of history and transcends it, the resurrection nevertheless has its origins within history, and, up to a certain point, still belongs there. Perhaps we could put it this way: Jesus’ resurrection points beyond history but has left a footprint within history. Therefore, it can be attested by witnesses as an event of an entirely new kind. Indeed, the apostolic preaching with all its boldness and passion would be unthinkable unless the witnesses has experienced a real encounter, coming to them from outside, with something entirely new and unforeseen, namely the self-revelation and verbal communication of the risen Christ."

"If we attend to the witnesses with listening hearts and open ourselves to the signs by which the Lord again and again authenticates both them and Himself, then we know that He is truly risen. He is alive. Let us entrust ourselves to Him, knowing that we are on the right path. With Thomas, let us place our hands into Jesus’ pierced side and confess: My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28). The resurrection of Jesus is a fact, a definite, datable, perceptible event. And, it is this event which, in the words of the great Easter proclamation sung each year at the Easter Vigil, "banishes enmities, drives out wickedness, washes away guilt, restores innocence, brings joy, establishes peace, and weds heaven to earth." Pope John Paul II said, "Easter is the day that dawns after a night of watching, "the day the Lord has made" (Psalm 117:24). It is the most special day in the history of the universe and in all human history. This is the day in which God clearly revealed that He is the God of the living and not of the dead (Mark 12:27)."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, "Christ’s resurrection was not a return to earthly life, as was the case with the raisings from the dead that He performed before Easter, Jairus’ daughter, the young man of Naim, and Lazarus. These actions were miraculous events, but the persons miraculously raised returned by Jesus’ power to ordinary earthly life. At some particular moment they would die again. Christ’s resurrection is essentially different. In His risen Body He passes from the state of death to another life beyond time and space. At Jesus’ resurrection His Body is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. He shares the divine life in His glorious state, so that Saint Paul can say that Christ is the Man of heaven (1 Corinthians 15:35-50). Christ’s glorified humanity can no longer be confined to earth and belongs henceforth only to the Father’s divine realm" (Luke 24:30-43; John 20:27).

The Holy Trinity

"Christ’s resurrection is an object of faith in that it is a transcendent intervention of God Himself in creation and history. In it the Three Divine Persons act together as One, and manifest Their own proper characteristics. The Father’s power raised up Christ His Son and by doing so perfectly introduced His Son’s humanity, including His Body, into the Holy Trinity. Jesus is conclusively revealed as Son of God in power according to the Holy Spirit of holiness by His resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:3-4; Acts of the Apostles 2:24). Saint Paul insists on the manifestation of God’s power through the working of the Holy Spirit Who gave life to Jesus’ dead humanity and called It to the glorious state of Lordship (Romans 6:4; 2 Corinthians 13:4; Philippians 3:10; Ephesians 1:19-22). As for the Son, He effects His own resurrection by virtue of His divine power. Jesus announces that the Son of Man will have to suffer much, die, and then rise (Mark 8:31; 9:9-31; 10:34). Elsewhere He affirms explicitly: I lay down My life that I may take it up again....I have the power to lay it down and I have the power to take it up again (John 10:17-18)."

"The Fathers (of the Church) contemplate the resurrection from the perspective of the Divine Person of Christ, Who remained united to His (human) Soul and Body, even when these were separated from each other by death. Saint Gregory of Nyssa said, By the unity of His Divine Nature, Which remains present in each of the two components, these are reunited. For as death is produced by the separation of the human components, so resurrection is achieved by the union of the two."

"The resurrection above all constitutes the confirmation of all Christ’s works and teachings ( 1 Corinthians 15:14). All truths, even those most inaccessible to human reason, find their justification there. Christ’s resurrection is the fulfillment of the promises of the New and Old Testaments (Matthew 28:6, Mark 16:7; Luke 24:6-48). The truth of Christ’s divinity is confirmed by His resurrection (John 8:28). By His death Christ liberates us from sin. By His resurrection He opens for us the way to a new life. Finally, Christ’s resurrection, and the risen Christ Himself, is the principle and source of our own future resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-22; Hebrews 6:5; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Colossians 3:1-3)."

Dear readers, may every Easter blessing be yours, and may our risen Savior pour into your hearts and those of your loved ones an abundance of His sacred peace and eternal joy.

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