He Rose Again
by Rich Maffeo
On the third day He rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures….
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20).
During the summer of 2005, I led a Children's Liturgy of the Word. Each week I had the privilege to teach seven and eight-year-olds the wonders of our Catholic faith. We studied Scripture and Church teaching about such holy mysteries as the Trinity, the Incarnation, Resurrection, Christ's atonement, and His Presence in the Eucharist.
Where some adults who've heart the stories for decades might nod off to sleep, children's eyes grow wide with wonder. Where some adults hesitate with doubt, children receive the ancient truths with uncomplicated faith.
I met one of those children in my class. The second-grader had been told, "People killed Jesus, and He's dead."
He shared this information in a low, somber voice, glancing at me once or twice, and then dropping his gaze to the floor.
I bent and looked into his face. "Yes," I said. "Some people killed Jesus. But three days later, He came back to life. He is alive. Right now. Today." I emphasized the word, "Today."
I hope I'll never forget the child's face. His eyes suddenly glistened. His countenance lifted. He straightened his shoulders as if a weight had been removed, pumped his arm, and shouted, "Yes!"
No wonder the Lord Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mathew 18:3). That youngster's faith is something every adult in the Church would do well to emulate.
St. Paul proclaimed, "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty [too] is our preaching; empty, too, your faith" (1 Corinthians 15: 13-14).
The Apostle continued, "Behold, I tell you a mystery. We…. Will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet? For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed….[and] then the word that is written shall come about: 'Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15: 50-55).
The bodily resurrection of Christ is the linchpin - the cornerstone - of Christianity. No wonder liberal theologians, philosophers, and teachers have, for two thousand years attacked the Resurrection. Destroy it, and Christianity loses its authority to declare Christ alone is the door to eternal life, that no one comes to the Father except through Him. Destroy the Resurrection and we have no assurance of forgiveness of sin. If Jesus died and that was the end of it, then the Communion of Saints, Christ's Presence in the Eucharist, and our hope of heaven is all a farce.
Yet, this is the glorious truth you and I privileged to proclaim each week when we profess our certainty that Christ died and was buried….
And on the third day, rose from the grace.
If that doesn't stir something inside us to should, "Hallelujah," if that incredible reality doesn't move us to a holy awe - the maybe we should check our pulses.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, with child-like faith, I believe in our resurrection. Have mercy on me and permit me to share eternal life with Mary, the virgin Mother of God, the apostles, and all the saints who have done Your will throughout the ages. Amen.
Next time: The Scriptures
These meditations are compiled in Richard Maffeo's book, "We Believe: Forty Meditations on the Nicene Creed." The book is available through bookstores and his website
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