I find the Resurrection narratives in the Gospels surprising, earthy and profoundly human. Jesus’ followers think he is a gardener, a ghost or a fellow traveler, because no one expected him to come back from the dead.
Imagine the delight, joy and amazement they feel when they come to know that the Lord has truly been raised and is with them again. The Resurrection is clearly spiritual and physical, not just a resuscitated corpse nor a purely subjective experience.
The resurrected Christ is clearly physical. He shows his wounds to Thomas, eats a piece of fish, cooks breakfast, breathes the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and talks with people. The physicality of the Resurrection expresses the unity of the human person as a body and a spirit, reminding us that the salvation of Jesus is not only about what happens in the next life, but also about the here and now.
The Catholic Church expresses this conviction by feeding, housing, educating and healing more people than any other institution on the planet. What we do in the body and in this life matters profoundly because all created reality has been taken up, transformed and redeemed in the Resurrection of Christ.
But the risen Jesus is not just a dead person brought back to a normal human life like Lazarus or the daughter of Jairus. Having conquered the power of sin and death forever, Jesus is Lord and Messiah forever, offering forgiveness, mercy and eternal life to those who believe.
He has a new spiritual relationship with the human race and with the entire cosmos. This profound spiritual experience of the risen Christ is the center of the saving mystery proclaimed by the early church.
The Christian mission ultimately leads us beyond the limits of this world to that mystery, to the other Kingdom of God and union with the Blessed Trinity.
Because Christ’s Resurrection is physical and spiritual, so is the church and her mission and so is the human person and our vocation. As Catholics, we are not so other-worldly that poverty, violence, hunger, beauty, learning and sexuality do not matter or have nothing to do with the Gospel.
Everything authentically human has been subsumed and transformed in the Resurrection of Christ and everything destructive of human dignity needs to be resisted and stopped.
We are not secular humanists, however, only concerned about human progress in measurable terms. We passionately care about the salvation of souls and strive to lead all humanity into a loving and saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
In other words, we are sacramental, knowing that all of God’s creation points to the goodness and love of the Lord, that there is a physical and a spiritual dimension to everything. When we recognize this mysterious truth, all of reality becomes sacred, for it can only exist in relationship to the One who created it, redeemed it and sustains its life.
The fallacy of secularity seeks to shut the doors and windows of the world against God, as if somehow he is the enemy of our human freedom instead of its great guarantee and protector.
The human race today needs mystics, people of all sorts who have encountered the risen Christ in the actual details of their lives, and who are willing to give their all to share this saving Gospel with everyone.
What are your recent sightings of the Lord of Life? Pray over them and share them with the people in your life. The power of such proclamation set the world on fire 2,000 years ago.