Fortunately, we will not have to know what our life would be like if Christ had not died for us—because in fact he did die for us, and lives fully in the reality we call God. But If we do not entrust ourselves lovingly to the crucified-Resurrected Christ, then the effects of his death for us are greatly diminished. To the extent that we surrender to Christ and live his love faithfully, then his death for us has great effects. What would our life be, if we did not live and die with Christ? We would live empty lives, and perish into nothingness. That unfortunately appears to be the fate of many in our society today; many have lost living faith in Christ. “They are in love with the world,” and with themselves.
“In the world you have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16). All of the suffering, sin, evil that one experiences in life in the world cannot undo the victory that Christ gained for each and for all. “Sin has no more dominion over us” (Rom 8). “Death is swallowed up in life” (I Cor 15). The reign of evil is intensely portrayed in the narratives of Jesus’ passion; Christ suffers horrible ravishes of evil done by his fellow human beings. To those who seize Jesus to deliver him over to Pilate for death, he declares, “This is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Lk 22). To us still undergoing the trials of life, Christ says, “Take heart, for I have overcome the world,” and all means everything that evil can do to destroy you eternally. We die in the body, we live in the Spirit.
The Resurrection of Christ is not some external event that happened in time. Jesus’ suffering and death were indeed in time. What we know of the Resurrection is not some temporal or external event at all, but what was experienced out of time by certain chosen men and women. On this point, the Apostle Paul is clear and concise: “God revealed His Son in me.” This experience, and others like it in Peter, John, Mary Magdalen, is short-handedly called “the Resurrection of Christ.” How it happened, or even what happened, or when in measured time, no one knows. What we believe and know is grounded firmly on the apostolic witness of those who experienced Christ alive and as fully one with God after he had been tortured to death. “Christ is truly arisen, and has appeared to Simon” (Lk 24) That is what makes an apostle: one who experienced the Risen Christ in his psyche (consciousness) and who was then sent out to proclaim the Risen One from his or her own experience. And that is why we call the Church “apostolic.” Our faith in Christ alive and as fully one with God is grounded firmly and until death on the experience of the Resurrected which the apostles were privileged to have. “As of one untimely born, Christ appeared also to me,” the Apostle Paul insists to the wavering Christians in Corinth (I Cor 15).
“Because I live, you also live,” declares Jesus in St. John’s Gospel. The living Christ inbreathes his life, power, divinity into the heart, mind, soul of the believer. To have faith in Christ is to open oneself up to the presence of the same God, the unknown One whom Jesus called “the Father,” and to carry that presence into the world through one’s prayer, thoughts, actions, self-giving love unto death. And then one is sure of this: “Death is swallowed up in life.”
Blessed Easter to each and to all, for “Now is Christ Risen from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Christ is the revelation of the unknown God.
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