Christ is truly risen, Alleluia!
Today is Easter Sunday, 2018. (Just in case you forgot what year it was.) As you all know, I’m Catholic, and this is a huge day for us. So, in the intents and purposes of being up front and honest, I want to share my thoughts with you on this week, on this day, and what it means to me. Because this is my blog.
Let’s start with an historical look at what this day actually is. Fr. Lee in today’s mass gave a brilliant exposition of how difficult it is to prove to people what happened. No one witnessed the resurrection. No one saw the cloths being removed, no one saw the stone rolling back. All they saw were things that were evidence of something happening. Some saw Jesus die. Others laid the body in the tomb, wrapped in cloths. Others, including women (not considered valid witnesses at this point in history, btw), saw the stone rolled to block the entrance and “noted the place”. Then, many saw the empty tomb, the stone rolled back, the burial cloths lying there or rolled up in a separate place. The women went and reported it, and the apostles went to look, and then spread the news of Jesus rising from the dead. A lawyer or detective would piece together evidence of something happening. But what was it? The Roman historian Tacitus and the Jewish historian Josephus both agree Jesus was real, died on a cross, and then had followers spreading the belief in his rising from the dead. Mara bar Serapion refers to a wise king being killed.
So. What happened?
Simply speaking, Jesus rose from the dead.
“Whoa, Joe, bold claim on your blog, yo!” Yeah, well, it’s the truth. I invite you to explore with me the historical cause for why a group of people would want to have a crucified man accused as a blasphemer and false king as their God. Or a man who is a crazy person. Or imagine, in that time, writings that Mary of Magdalen, a woman, gets top billing as the person who shared the news with the 12. (I cannot say this strongly enough: women were not considered to be reliable witnesses at that time!) I invite you to explore with me the historical references to what happened, who was there, how christianity spread throughout the Med, etc. Come with me with an open mind and explore. (If you like the idea of the theory of relativity, then you shouldn’t object to this. I also use Dr. Kreeft’s, “Lord, Liar, or Lunatic” argument here.) Nat Geo look at the current state of the tomb.
Or take a look from a different perspective, a challenging, personal one. I am dying. I’ve got ALS, and there is no cure, no other outcome. Does that make any sense? I mean, what’s the point of living since I’m dying anyway? What makes it so worthwhile to go on living, to go through what ever pain or inconvenience, to let my kids deal with dad getting weaker, not being able to speak the same way, not being able to help? Why bother my wife to help me button my pants, or slow her down for every appointment, or spend money and time working on this wheelchair dream? WHAT DOES IT MATTER? (To my shrink, this isn’t thoughts of me killing myself, ok?)
If Jesus rose from he dead, then everything is changed. Everything. It means holy crap, I better listen to what this guy said before he died because he’s obviously got something going on! I mean, wouldn’t you think that someone who did that is someone to pay attention to? We listen to celebrities and rock stars and politicians who’ve done less than that claim. It means that my life, the lives of others like me, matters in a way that work or productivity can’t explain, and all the above mentioned suffering crap makes sense (I think I addressed this in “the problem of pain”).
This is why Easter is so important to Christians. This is the reason for the day. Everything led up to this – and everything is changed after it.
So, my own journey through Holy Week and Easter has had ups and downs. My own life is currently progressing toward greater suffering, and I’m kind of oblivious to the full extent of what it will be – too dumb to be afraid. But I should be afraid. That suffering won’t make sense (as a crucified God wouldn’t make sense) unless there is something deeper there. And in Easter Sunday, I have the reason for my hope. As of right now, science doesn’t offer a cure, but a miracle does. And if I’m not to be healed, then my hope is in the Resurrection because Jesus showed the way.
Again, I invite you to join with me and explore the depths of these statements. I’m learning every day, and I’d gladly share those lessons and teachers. To questions I don’t know the answer to, let’s explore. Always in respect and camaraderie, preferably over a coffee, chartreuse, scotch, bourbon, beer, etc.
And I hope you all have a blessed Easter!