…were it not for that Jesus Christ, for our sake, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
|“Come on Thomas-Called-Didymus, I’m not lying! I’m really back! I dare you to check out my wounds–so you know it’s real.”|
I was thinking about this during the Easter Vigil Mass the Saturday night before Easter Sunday. And even when I went to morning Easter Mass the next day. Specifically, I was thinking about the resurrection part. How incredibly important and key is the Resurrection that if it didn’t happen, then what legitimacy would Christianity have?
Any ol’ person can teach, preach, and perform feats that astounds others to the point where the only conclusion is that such feats are miraculous. Any person can be arrested and then undergo a terrible, terrible death. But the real kicker is coming back from the dead. And not only coming back from the dead, but coming back from the dead because it was foreshadowed in the past!
It’s a pretty heavy thought to let marinate in my mind–that all of Christianity is pointless unless Jesus went through what He went through in His suffering, death, and resurrection.
Some outward thoughts and examples regarding the Resurrection, but I am no historian and theologian (or at least exceedingly amateur at best):
If the Resurrection never happened, then Jesus’ apostles probably would have gone back to their normal lives. My priest reflected on this at the morning Easter Sunday Mass. They would have been saddened by losing their teacher and friend. They wouldn’t have been compelled to continue Jesus’ teaching and ministry because He didn’t return.
If the Resurrection never occurred, the memory of Jesus would have faded away. He would just been another man in history that others followed because they liked what he said, what he taught, and the things that he was able to do. No one would really care after a long, long while. Christianity wouldn’t have spread. It would have died, just as Jesus died with no resurrection. We would simply be Jews awaiting the Messiah. Still.
If the Resurrection never happened, then our own deaths mean nothing. Once we are dead, we are done. There’s nothing to look forward to after death. And suffering in our lives would have no redemption. Really, we wouldn’t be redeemed. There’s no glorious end game to our lives on earth.
St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians teaching them about Christ’s resurrection from the dead. If Christ had not been raised then Jesus’ disciples’ preaching is in vain and thus the Christian faith would be in vain unless Christ was raised from the dead.
I dunno…I could go on. Essentially, I guess what really stood out to me in thinking about all this is that the Resurrection is so incredibly central to the Christian faith that without it almost seems as if the rest of our faith doesn’t have any sort of legitimacy. “In vain”, as St. Paul writes.
So why is the Resurrection important? Fortunately, my Catholic faith lets me refer back to the deposit of faith given to the apostles passed down through the ages until now. The Catechism of the Catholic Church outlines the importance and meaning of the Resurrection because (CCC 651-655, with yes, Scripture references in the link’s footnotes):
- It confirms all of Christ’s works and teachings.
- It fulfills Old Testament prophecy and what Jesus said of Himself
- It links the Incarnation and the fulfillment of God’s plan because of Jesus’ divinity
- Christ’s death liberates us from sin, and by His Resurrection a new way of life is opened for us
- Christ’s Resurrection is the principle and source of our future resurrection
As a Christian, do I understand the implications and importance of the Resurrection? That His rising from the dead is so key as to why I am Christian? And as a disciple of Christ, how then should I respond to this great joy that our God is not dead, He’s alive, the tomb is empty, and should I die in friendship and communion with God, then I too will be resurrected gloriously just as He is? How would I live my day-to-day life living out this joy of Easter?
Good thing we celebrate Easter day for 8 days straight followed by an entire season lasting longer than Lent. More time to reflect on this and to party it up! 😀
O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?
The Incredulity of St. Thomas by Caravaggio from Wikipedia