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“Where is Jesus’ body buried?” I had to pause and think for a bit, when a Catholic school student asked me that question. Was she asking the location of the burial place of Jesus, or was she really asking where Jesus’ bones are interred now? Before I could answer, another classmate raised her hand and said, “Jesus was resurrected, so there is no body here on earth.”
It is challenging to wrap our minds around the resurrection event of Jesus, for it defies our scientific understanding of death. The disciples of Jesus felt the same way on that Sunday morning following his crucifixion. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and others went to Jesus’ tomb that morning, bringing spices to dress Jesus’ dead body. The women expected to find the lifeless body of Jesus in the tomb. His body would have been the only remaining link to the love they once shared with him. They found the stone rolled away and no sight of Jesus’ body. Two angels at the tomb prompted them to remember what Jesus had told them -- that he would rise on the third day. Recalling Jesus’ words, the women returned to the apostles to tell the news, but their news was greeted with incredulity. In disbelief, Peter ran to the tomb to see for himself. After he saw only the burial cloths in the tomb, he returned home amazed at what had happened.
The resurrection of Our Lord on Easter Sunday is an amazing event that challenges each of us to ask, ‘What does this mean?’ St. Paul eloquently writes how Our Lord’s resurrection affects all of us. We have died to one kind of life and have been born to another. As an analogy, we enjoy physical life because we are surrounded by air and the air is in us. Likewise, we now live the life of God because Christ is in us, just as we are in Christ.
Even more astonishing is how Jesus continues to provide a tangible sign that he is alive and present. Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper, commanding us to do it in memory of him. We bring our sins, our fears, and our gratitude to the Lord at Communion, and Jesus transforms them within himself in his sacrifice and resurrection. Before we receive communion we respond with a firm ‘Amen,’ which means ‘so be it’ or ‘I believe.’
Because of Christ’s resurrection on Easter, we have real hope for eternity. We can have full, confident assurance in what St. Paul’s letter to Titus calls “the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13) When we are confident in our future with Him, we can look at our trials from an eternal perspective. Even our most prolonged trials that may feel never-ending, fall short of eternity. Paul encourages us to keep that eternal perspective when he writes, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
At the Good Friday service at St. Francis, I was so moved during the veneration of the cross. Each person came up with great love for Our Lord and for what he did on the cross for each one of us. As they planted a kiss on the Relic of the True Cross, I could sense that Our Lord’s cross was really the cross of salvation for them.
These past 40 days of Lent, Our Lord has drawn us closer to him, inviting us to participate more deeply in the new life of His resurrection. This hour of celebration of Our Lord’s resurrection will come to an end, but we are sent forth to live this message of resurrection in our family and in our community. Our God who conquered death and the grave is working on our behalf in the here and now and in preparation for our eternity with him.