By Rick Berube
CSS Associate Chaplain
“…and if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”
-- (Corinthians 15:14)
As this Easter season nears its conclusion, I continue to reflect on Christ’s Resurrection. I think that many Christians leaving their churches today have simply found it implausible that Christ could have risen from the dead. This notion of a risen Christ and its implications for our lives is likely the most difficult conundrum relating to our Faith experience.
We are taught that all that exists on Earth was formed towards the fulfillment of humankind. Not only do we have a special place in Creation, but in fact we are called to participate in and continue that Creation towards its ultimate purpose of unity with/in God. Saint Paul affirms that this full participation in Creation is made possible only through the death and Resurrection of Christ. The Resurrection of Jesus gives our created reality an astounding potential; a new way of seeing things. It affords us a passport to a transformational journey. It is more than a mere story, a symbol, or a subjective experience. Henceforth, given this death-defying event of the Resurrection, all that happens in life, all events, all things seen and unseen, all relationships, and all encounters can be understood and interpreted as manifestations of God’s creative love, and God’s invitation to us to share in His divinity. In Faith, we are urged to seek out the meaning of this, and engage in it as active participants in the ongoing Creation. To many, this may just seem too great a challenge.
I sometimes find myself hoping that someone -- some sage poet or some author in carefully crafted phrases -- might provide a plausible enlightenment on this. Instead, I inevitably bump up against the “mystery,” the transcendent in this quest, and I am left with needing to simply remain very skeptical about the whole notion… or totally surrender to it in Faith; only through Faith can we perceive this revelation of Christ himself.
Through the Resurrection, God tells us that we no longer have to be afraid, that the dark shadow that is cast on our human experience by our natural, ubiquitous fear of death can now be lifted. Through the obscurity that sometimes creeps into our lives, an inner voice -- soft and sometimes barely audible -- can be heard speaking to us, re-directing us, shifting our attitude, and prompting our explorations toward recognizing the astounding potential, when we might have been stuck in the shadows. A good friend showed me recently that as he prepared for his death. The embrace of friends and family members who surrounded him on his journey, calming him, assuring him, and loving him opened him up to this mystery. In the end, his fears and anxieties subsided, and he seemed to genuinely welcome his entry into the life of the Resurrection. This openness to the Resurrection came to him through the material world where friends and family members demonstrated their love.
The “new life” we are invited into is not something that should be consigned to our last hours on Earth; it is revealed in the present moment, within our present-day circumstances, events, and relationships, opening us up to the Spirit of God within us and around us.