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How shall we find words for the resurrection?

March 20, 2008
tr-christicon.jpgEaster is the promise that death will visit each of us. But more important, it is the assurance that death does not complete life, but only changes it. Easter prompts us to recall, from the darkest moments of grief to life's smallest trials, how much God comforts us and gives us the strength to persevere. The Easter mysteries give us a new identity and a new name: we are saved, redeemed, renewed; we are Christian, and we have no more need for fear or despair. The tomb could not hold the Lord of Life.
Through the powerful Scripture readings of the Triduum, and especially of the Easter Vigil and Easter morning, we catch glimpses of just what resurrection means. How shall we find words for the Resurrection? How can we give expression to the conquest of death and the harrowing of hell and the washing that has joined us to God's life? We must honestly admit to ourselves that there are no words. There are only the wrong words–metaphors, chains of images, verbal icons – that invite us into a mystery beyond words... the mystery of resurrected life.
It is nearly impossible for many to sit down at a computer and write a piece about the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. One doesn’t sit at a laptop or with a “Blackberry” in hand and type out "Jesus is risen!" It has to be performed and enacted. If the Resurrection were meant to be a historically verifiable occurrence, God wouldn't have performed it in the dark without eyewitnesses. Resurrection was an event transacted between God the Father and God the Son by the power of God the Holy Spirit. Not a single Gospel tells us how it happened.
tr-emmaus.jpgThe Resurrection is not a matter of the head, of theory and ideas, but a matter of the heart that can only be experienced and learned through a community’s worship and liturgy. To be fully experienced and grasped, the Resurrection requires an environment of hauntingly beautiful music, of smoke and incense, bread and wine, musical instruments, murmurs of greeting and shouts of joy, dazzling colors and most of all, three-dimensional bodies of real people, even those who aren’t necessarily “regulars” of our parish communities. Jesus' victory over death belongs to the church's ongoing pastoral and sacramental life and its mission to the world.
How and where is Jesus alive and present in our own experience, in our Church and in our world? First of all Jesus is alive in all those who are united with the Apostles and continue their preaching and teaching. He is present in Word and Sacrament which continue to unite his people on earth.
We recognize Jesus alive and humbly present in the Church, in the world, and in our own lives– often in obscurity, and in things which perhaps do not appear to be exceptionally visible and comprehensible from the outside, but which, when viewed from the inside, reveal to us the living presence of the Risen Lord.
When we carefully examine our own lives, we may be often frightened by our own sinfulness, weakness, ambiguity, duplicity and emptiness. We are poor, weak, hopeless, and seemingly so unfit to be vessels bearing seeds of the resurrection. But because of the Lord's love, his power, his mercy and his undying presence, even our own lives can become glorious manifestations of the power of God's Son.
Easter invites us to recall the past with gratitude, to accept the future with hope and the present moment with wonder and awe. Easter is God’s glorious answer to questions about the significance of our lives. From now on, the only experience worth living for and dying for is the experience of the first disciples – to be one of them who has seen the Lord – to know that he is risen, and to share in that incredible joy!
Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.,
C.E.O., Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation