Christ Has Truly Arisen!
(Easter Sunday Meditation)
The truth that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, was raised up by the Holy Spirit of God the Father is supported by biblical foundation.
The four Books of the Gospel report the great event of the Lord’s Resurrection as the ever essential ground for Christian faith which in turn is the basis of moral principles and values consistently and proudly observed by the Christian Community for the past twenty centuries.
In fact, Christianity is the sole religion that teaches the truth that not only death is by no means the end of man’s existence here on earth, but it also assures people of the faith that the dead will be raised up to a new life that will last for ever.
The belief in the resurrection of the dead is strongly built on the much more fundamental belief in our Lord’s resurrection. Christian faith in the Lord’s resurrection is so important that, had Christ not arisen from death, Christianity would have been collapsed and that, in the words of Saint Paul, Christians would have become false witnesses against God Who did not raise Christ up. Would Christ not have been raised from the dead, we, believers in Christ’s Resurrection, would have been most unfortunate in the world for ending up in the slavery to sins and death.
The Gospel stories on the Resurrection of Christ are of one voice in telling us the truth that our Lord has really arisen. The first generations of witnesses to the Lord’s Resurrection focused on these four facts:
- One, the empty tomb, this means that our Lord was no longer in the burial place where He was laid to rest.
- Two, the message of the angel that our Lord was raised from the dead.
- Three, the many apparitions of the Risen Lord to the apostles and other disciples.
- Four, the radical change of the way of life of those who believe in the Lord Who died, but Who is now living in the Christian Community, the Church that He founded, His Mystical Body. Christians were in the darkness of sin and death but are now in the light of truth and life.
Not only did Christians from the times of the apostles down to recent days strongly and loudly proclaim with the words of their mouth the great news of the Lord’s Resurrection but they also fearlessly do defend their faith in it by shedding their own blood.
All the above-mentioned facts would not be useful unless we properly understand the true meaning of the resurrection of the dead in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church.
The Resurrection of Christ our Lord and Savior and that of the dead on the last day of the world are one doctrine, or teaching, pertaining to Christian faith that there will be a new life in the new heaven and new earth. The present physical conditions of our body are by no way suitable for the new life in the new heaven and new earth.
There should be, for this reason, an absolute change, or transformation, of our physical, material and thus mortal, body into a spiritual and immortal one.
Our present body is limited and conditioned by time and space. When we are here and now in this church for our Sunday Holy Mass celebration, we are limited and conditioned by the law of time and space so we cannot by this same time be present somewhere else, at our home for instance.
The resurrection stories tell us that the risen Lord was able to see and talk to many people in different places at the same period of time.
Our present body cannot enter the house without first opening the door. The Risen Lord, in order to visit His friends, who were so afraid of the Jews, was able to enter the room that was carefully locked.
Our present body cannot survive without basic needs such as food and drink. At the resurrection of the dead, we will live as do the angels in God’s Kingdom.
So, there is an essential difference between the revival of a person who has seemingly died because of old age, of sickness, of accident, or just of being suffocated by water or smoke, and the resurrection of the dead. The difference is that the revival of a dead person can be performed by medicine doctors and scientists. The resurrection of the dead exclusively and absolutely belongs to the almighty and all-powerful God alone.
More important is this truth that the revival of a dead person can by no way assure that person that they will not die one day. The resurrection of the dead, on the contrary, surely means that people who enter the new life in the new heaven and new earth will live forever.
Let us listen to the very words of Saint Paul on the true meaning of the resurrection of the dead as follows:
It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious. It is sown weak; it is raised powerful. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.
Fr. Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Nhut, O.P.