It can be difficult for us to fully grasp what this truth means. St. Paul goes so far as to say, “if Christ has not been raised, then empty [too] is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15:14) The entirety of our faith, over 2000 years of Church History, comes down to this moment. Christ is risen. How are we to respond? Mary Magdalene was at the tomb to anoint Christ’s body when she encountered the Truth. The angel tells her, “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold, the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.’” (Mark 16:6-7) She must go, she is sent. Her response to this Truth is evangelization, a sharing with others in joy!
He is Risen! Christ, who was tortured, abused, and humiliated, has defeated death. The worst punishment of this world, death, has no power over him. Alleluia.
Surprisingly, this aspect of our faith, this essential truth, can often be difficult to grasp. We are familiar with Holy Week. We are used to the idea of “offering it up” and redemptive suffering. It is often the case that we remain in a sort of constant “Way of the Cross”. Uniting our suffering with Christ’s, it’s easy to believe that our suffering alone is the mark of what it means to be Christian. But Christ offers us more. He offers us Easter Sunday, the joy of the Resurrection! The joy that leads us to action, as it did with Mary Magdalene at the tomb.
The key to redemptive suffering is the redemption! We are a Resurrection people, and the joy of the Resurrection must touch all areas of our self. Christ came to save us as man. Does this mean we ignore suffering? No, that would be naïve to the reality of the trials of life and how Christ desires to work within those areas. But it does mean we are presented the opportunity to live transformed by the Truth. Along with Mary, who left the tomb with the knowledge of this Truth, we are called to go forth from the tomb and live the joy of the Resurrection in the fullness of who we are. How do we do this?
- Live with Hope. The Christian is called to live in the hope of the Resurrection. As Pope Benedict XVI said in his encyclical on Hope, “Instead of evil being unleashed within man, the light shines victorious: suffering—without ceasing to be suffering—becomes, despite everything, a hymn of praise.” In our own lives, this suffering could be in the form of bodily illness, or trials within our families. It may involve discouragement at seeing habits we desperately want to change but feel incapable of changing. Whatever it is, the Hope of Easter allows us to reorient our suffering, giving us a new hope. Christ entered into this world and He knows our suffering. Hope doesn’t remove this suffering but allows us to seek a new pathway. It is a new orientation. In hope we focus on the obtaining good from suffering, realizing we are not alone or forgotten, and we are able to live differently.
- Live with Joy. The plan of the evil one did not prevail. Christ rose from the dead and restored us all into right relationship with the Father! Why did Christ do this? Out of love. As Christians, we are called to live with this joy. Being body and soul, we can show people this truth by how we live our lives. In a simple smile, in a gesture of kindness, we can bring the joy of the Resurrection into a world so desperately in need of the “Good News”. Mother Teresa explains this saying, “Keep the joy of loving God in your heart and share this joy with all you meet.”
- Living More Fully Alive. Invite the Resurrected Lord into your heart, into your present circumstances. If there are areas of your life that need healing, invite him there. If there are areas where you need accompaniment, invite him there also, seek out others to walk this journey with you. Living fully alive consists of being able to respond to the Truth that has been proclaimed to us.
As you strive to live fully alive this Easter, Consider signing up for CMF CURO’s Catholic Coaching or Spiritual Direction. We invite you to join us for our Spiritual Healing Program that will be starting this June.
This Easter Season, allow your life to be transformed by this Truth: Christ entered into our humanity, suffered, died, and defeated death. He did all of this out of love for us, and He invites us to have our lives transformed by this love, living fully alive in hope and joy.