Friday, April 4, 2008


“I believe in Jesus Christ…He descended to the dead. On the third day, He rose again,” we recite in The Creed. The 50-day season of Easter is the commemoration of the fact of the Resurrection of our Lord. It is the greatest feast of Christendom because –

“The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community; handed on as fundamental by Tradition; established by the documents of the new Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the cross” (CCC, No. 638)

“The truth of Jesus’ divinity is confirmed by his Resurrection.” (CCC, No. 653) Indeed, the Resurrection is the sign our Lord proffered when some asked for a sign (that He was the promised Messiah): “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, ‘Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.’ He said to them in reply, ‘An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.’” (Mt 12:38-40)

Jonah “remained in the belly of the fish three days and three nights….Then the Lord commanded the fish to spew Jonah upon the shore”. (Jon 2:1-11)

Jesus “was teaching his disciples and telling them, ‘The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death he will rise’”. (Mk 9:30; cf. Mt 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; Mk 8:31; 10:32-34; Lk 9:22; 18:31)

The very difficulty of believing in the Resurrection argues in favor of Christianity: “Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples are still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were seeing a ghost. ‘In their joy they were still disbelieving and still wondering.’ [Lk 24:38-41] Thomas will also experience the test of doubt and St. Matthew relates that during the risen Lord’s last appearance in Galilee ‘some doubted.’ [Cf. Jn 20:24-27; Mt 28:17] Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles’ faith (or credulity) will not hold up. On the contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, from their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus.” (CCC, No. 644)

But it is not only Christ’s Divinity that the Resurrection proves: “Christ rose from the dead to show that he is true God and to teach us that we, too, shall rise from the dead” (Fr. M. Guzman, Question and Answer Catholic Catechism, No. 122) “All human beings will rise from the dead but only those who have been faithful to Christ will share in his glory” (Id. No. 123) “Christ’s Resurrection—and the risen Christ himself—is the principle and source of our future resurrection: ‘Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep….For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.’ [1 Cor 15:20-22]” (CCC, No. 655)

“All the dead will rise, ‘those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment’ [Jn 5:29; cf. Dan 12:2]”. (CCC, No. 998) Thus, we also say in the Creed, “I believe…in the resurrection of the body”.

“But if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.” (1 Cor 15:12-14)

One last point. The scripture accounts of the Resurrection would seem to indicate that our risen Lord was first seen by Mary Magdalene (Mt 28:1-10; Mk 16:9-11; Jn 20:1-18) as she was among the first to go to the tomb on the first day of the week, the day after the Sabbath. On the other hand –

“It is an ancient tradition of the Church that Jesus appeared first of all to his Mother in solitude. It could not have been otherwise because she is the first and principal co-redeemer of the human race, in perfect union with her son. Alone she would have been, since this appearance would be for a reason very different from the reason for the other appearances to the women and the disciples. He had to reassure and comfort them, and win them to him definitively in the faith. The Blessed Virgin…did not at any time cease to be in perfect union with the Blessed Trinity. Every last vestige of hope in the Resurrection of Jesus that remained on earth had been gathered into her heart….It is said that each year on this holy day [Easter Sunday] St. Thomas Aquinas counseled his hearers not to fail to congratulate the Blessed virgin on the Resurrection of her Son. And this is exactly what we do, beginning today, by reciting the Regina Coeli which will take the place of the Angelus during Eastertide.” (Fr. F. Fernandez, In Conversation with God, vol. 2, No. 47.3)