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Have you heard this phrase before, "For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible"? In an Internet Christian forum, a Catholic woman from Belgium was chatting with a Protestant man about the Resurrection of Jesus. The Catholic woman said that it was simply impossible that Jesus rose from the dead. She argued that dead was dead, that a dead man cannot relive his life in the same body. For her, the Resurrection of Jesus was symbolic. During my early college years, I shared her point of view. Although I was baptized and confirmed Catholic, my faith was limited to whatever I wanted to believe as long as it did not impinge on my sinful lifestyle. Did you have a phase in your life when your faith was just an identification in name only?
In the Creed we repeat this phrase: "Jesus rose again on the third day, in accordance with the Scriptures." This is the very event that we are celebrating, the Resurrection of Jesus, which is the center of the Christian message that has resounded since the beginning and has been handed down so that it may reach us today. Pope Francis said, "Without this faith in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus our hope would be weak, but it wouldn't even be hope, for the Death and Resurrection of Jesus is the heart of our hope."
|Tomb of Jesus inside the Church of Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem|
Year after year, we relive this Resurrection event to encounter the Risen Jesus. But there is a force that also hinders this encounter. Pope Francis said, "Unfortunately, there have often been attempts to obscure faith in the Resurrection of Jesus, and doubts have crept in even among believers themselves. This is because of superficiality, sometimes because of indifference, occupied by a thousand things considered more important than the faith, or because of a purely horizontal vision of life."
At the Holy Thursday mass held inside the Ascension Parish Prison, I saw the signs of the hope of Resurrection of Jesus alive in the men who came to participate in the foot washing and to partake in the Eucharist. Many had tattoos of grisly and morbid images on their arms, necks, and legs. When they had their feet washed, they were tearful and grateful that the Lord would count them among his disciples despite their sins. After receiving the Eucharist, one by one they knelt on the concrete floor with their heads leaning against the wall in deep prayer and thanksgiving.
|Church of Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem|
Jesus, by His resurrection, is showing us that life is not a meaningless puzzle. The Resurrection of Jesus gives us the greatest hope, because it opens our lives and the life of the world to the eternal future of God, to full happiness, to the certainty that evil, sin, death can be defeated. Because of this, there is no room for despair. Like Christ, if we go through life’s trials and strive to overcome them, then we will experience our own glorious resurrection.