The Resurrection is our only hope
The Resurrection of Christ from the dead which we celebrate today means everything to us. It is the central doctrine of Christianity. Without it, everything is meaningless. The Resurrection means that JESUS is still alive and saving souls now. He is saving us now. We cannot be saved by a dead Saviour. Christ didn’t just rise from the dead. He is risen.
The Resurrection proves that everything in the Catholic Faith is true. Everything JESUS taught and that has been handed down by the Church He founded is guaranteed infallibly, because God can neither deceive nor be deceived. If Christ is physically risen from the dead, so also will the faithful members of His Church rise physically to eternal life and victory in Him at the end of time.
Many of the Jews in the Old Testament believed in the resurrection even if they didn’t understand it fully. The Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob believed the Lord would raise us up from the dead, and so did the prophets. Isaiah said, “Thy dead shall live, their bodies shall rise. O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy” (26:19). The prophet Daniel speaks of the difference between the resurrection of the good and of the wicked when he said, “Some shall awake unto life everlasting and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (12:2). And then the prophet Ezekiel said, “Behold I will open your graves, and bring you out of your sepulchres … and you shall know that I am the Lord when I shall have opened up your sepulchres” (37:12,13). Faith in the resurrection of the dead and of the life to come enabled Job to endure all his sufferings and trials. “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that in the last day I shall rise out of the earth. And I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I will see my God” (19:25-26).
But it is in the Gospel this truth is most clearly taught. Our Lord not only taught it but made it so evident through His many miracles, such as the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Mark 5:21-43). Even more spectacularly He brought Lazarus back to life after he had been in the tomb four days (John 11:1-44). And most extraordinary of all, on the third day He raised Himself up from the dead. This faith in the resurrection of Christ and the promise of our own resurrection is what inspired the Apostles and all the martyrs and helped them to endure all their terrible tortures. It gives purpose to life, and helps us endure our trials and sufferings. It gives meaning to our Lenten penances.
The bodily Resurrection of Christ is a historical fact, but it is also a sign to us of what He is doing to us now and of our future destiny. God created us soul and body and they are meant to be together, so God saves both and resurrects both. He is preparing our souls and bodies right now for resurrection to eternal life. This began in Baptism when the seed was planted. It was strengthened in Confirmation and fed in the Holy Eucharist and then healed through Confession and the Anointing of the Sick and finally the Last Rites. The empty tomb and the Resurrection of Christ from the dead is our hope. It is our only hope. Let us rejoice as we now sing again, Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Happy Easter to you from all the priests!
Fr Paul Gillham, IC