The Christian faith stands or falls with the truth of the testimony that Christ is risen from the dead.
… Only if Jesus is risen has anything really new occurred that changes the world and the situation of mankind. Then he becomes the criterion on which we can rely. For then God has truly revealed himself.
To this extent, in our quest for the figure of Jesus, the Resurrection is the crucial point…
What actually happened? Clearly, for the witnesses who encountered the risen Lord, it was not easy to say. They were confronted with what for them was an entirely new reality, far beyond the limits of their experience.
… Now it must be acknowledged that if in Jesus’ Resurrection we were dealing simply with the miracle of a resuscitated corpse, it would ultimately be of no concern for us. For it would be no more important than the resuscitation of a clinically dead person through the art of doctors. For the world as such and for our human existence, nothing would have changed…
The New Testament testimonies leave us in no doubt that what happened in the “Resurrection of the Son of Man” was utterly different. Jesus’ Resurrection was about breaking out in an entirely new life form, into a life that is no longer subject to the law of dying and becoming, but lies beyond it — a life that opens to a new dimension of human existence… it constitutes an “evolutionary leap” (to draw an analogy, albeit one that is easily misunderstood). In Jesus’ Resurrection a new possibility of human existence is attained that affects everyone and that opens up a future, a new kind of future, for mankind.
So Paul was absolutely right to link the resurrections of Christians and the Resurrection of Jesus inseparably together: “If the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised… But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15: 16, 20). Christ’s resurrection is either universal event, or it is nothing. And only if we understand it as a universal event, as the opening up of a new dimension of human experience, are we on the way toward any kind of correct understanding of the New Testament Resurrection testimony.
On this basis we can understand the unique character of the New Testament testimony. Jesus has not returned to a normal human life in this world like Lazarus and the others whom Jesus raised from the dead. He has entered upon a different life, a new life — he has entered the vast breath of God himself, and it is from there that he reveals himself to his followers.
The death of God in Jesus Christ is at the same time the expression of his radical solidarity with us. The most obscure mystery of the faith is at the same time the clearest sign of a hope without end. And what is more: only through the failure of Holy Friday, only through the silence of death of Holy Saturday, were the disciples able to be led to an understanding of all that Jesus truly was and all that his message truly meant. God had to die for them so that he could truly live in them. The image they had formed of God, within which they had tried to hold him down, had to be destroyed so that through the rubble of the ruined house they might see the sky, him himself who remains, always, the infinitely greater. We need the silence of God to experience again the abyss of his greatness and the chasm of our nothingness which would grow wider and wider without him.
There is a Gospel scene which in an extraordinary way anticipates the silence of Holy Saturday and which again, therefore, seems to be a profile of the moment in history we are living now. Christ is asleep on a boat which, buffeted by a storm, is about to sink. The prophet Elijah had once made fun of the priests of Baal who were futilely invoking their god to send down fire on their sacrifice. He urged them to cry out louder in case their god was asleep. But is it true that God does not sleep? Does not the prophet’s scorn also fall upon the heads of the faithful of the God of Israel who are sailing with him in a boat about to sink? God sleeps while his very own are about to drown – is not this the experience of our lives? Don’t the Church, the faith, resemble a small boat about to sink, struggling futilely against the waves and the wind, and all the time God is absent? The disciples cry out in dire desperation and they shake the Lord to wake him but he is surprised at this and rebukes them for their small faith. But are things any different for us?
When the storm passes we will realize just how much this small faith of ours was charged with stupidity. And yet, O Lord, we cannot help shaking you, God, you who persist in keeping your silence, in sleeping, and we cannot help crying to you: Wake up, can’t you see we are sinking? Stir yourself, don’t let the darkness of Holy Saturday last for ever, let a ray of Easter fall, even on these times of ours, accompany us when we set out in our desperation towards Emmaus so that our hearts may be enflamed by the warmth of your nearness. You who, hidden, charted the paths of Israel only to become a man in the end with men – don’t leave us in the dark, don’t let your word be lost in these days of great squandering of words.
Lord, grant us your help, because without you we will sink. Amen .
“The Anguish of an Absence (Three Meditations on Holy Saturday)”
by Joseph Ratzinger
(later Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI)
Lord Jesus Christ, in the darkness of death You made a light shine; in the abyss of the deepest solitude the powerful protection of Your love now lives for ever; in the throes of Your concealment we now can sing the hallelujah of the saved. Grant us the humble simplicity of faith, which does not let us stray when You call us in the hours of darkness, of abandonment, when all seems difficult; grant us, at this time when a mortal struggle is being waged around You, light enough that we will not lose You; light enough for us to give to all those who still have need of it. Make the mystery of Your Easter joy shine, like the aurora of the dawn, on these days of ours; grant that we may truly be men of Easter in the midst of history’s Holy Saturday. Grant that in the course of the days of light and dark of this age we may always with happy hearts find ourselves on the pathway to Your future glory. Amen.
Meditationen zur Karwoche,
Kyrios-Verlag, Freising 1969
(Noel Stookey and Stu Davis
©1981 Neworld Media Music Publishers)
You wear your heart on your sleeve
And though they laugh when they leave
You call it Love and I believe (you)
Why must you always play the clown?
You have the edge you laid it down
You give it up without a sound…
Oh April Fool
How can they say “love is cruel”?
They catch the ring but drop the jewel.
Like a teardrop in a pool…
As the heart shows through the eyes
Before you were born you were recognized
And unto the losers comes their Prize.
Oh April Fool
Even as the hands were washed, knew
We’d free the thief instead of you
You said the Father was in You
You said we know not what we do
Forgive us…April Fool.
This week on Among Women, as the liturgical calendar brings us to the season of Lent, we talk about the centrality of having a relationship with Jesus. The Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, almsgiving are designed to draw our attention to growing in our faith in Christ. I’m delighted to welcome Allison Gingras, a speaker and writer who loves sharing her faith in Jesus with others. This show profiles Allison’s story of conversion and growth in ministry.
I also open up the Bible and talk about St Mary Clopas – one of the contemporaries of the Blessed Mother and Jesus — a first century convert who found herself both at the Cross and as a witness to the empty tomb on Easter morning.
Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him: “If you continue in my word, you will be my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
John 8: 31-32
O my soul, if you want to be enlightened and instructed, you must not read the Book of Life hastily or superficially, but slowly and attentively; then you will be inflamed with divine love and you will know the truth.
-St Angela of Foligno-
How good and sweet it is, Jesus, to dwell in your heart! All my thoughts and affections will I sink in the Heart of Jesus, my Lord. I have found the Heart of my king, my brother, my friend, the Heart of my beloved Jesus. And now that I have found your Heart, which is also mine, dear Jesus, I will pray to you. Grant that my prayer may reach you, may find entrance to your Heart. Draw me to yourself. O Jesus, who is infinitely above all beauty and every charm, wash me clean from my defilement; wipe out even the smallest trace of sin. If you, who is all-pure, will purify me, I will be able to make my way to your Heart and dwell there all my life long. There I will learn to know your will, and find the grace to fulfill it. Amen
Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
This Beloved of ours is merciful and good. Besides, he so deeply longs for our love that he keeps calling us to come closer. This voice of his is so sweet that the poor soul falls apart in the face of her own inability to instantly do whatever he asks of her. And so you can see, hearing him hurts much more than not being able to hear him… For now, his voice reaches us through words spoken by good people, through listening to spiritual talks, and reading sacred literature. God calls to us in countless little ways all the time. Through illnesses and suffering and through sorrow he calls to us. Through a truth glimpsed fleetingly in a state of prayer he calls to us. No matter how halfhearted such insights may be, God rejoices whenever we learn what he is trying to teach us.
- Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle -
“O Deity eternal, O high eternal Deity, O sovereign, eternal Father, O ever-burning fire!… What do Your bounty and Your grandeur show? The gift You have given to man. And what gift have You given? Your whole self, O eternal Trinity. And where did You give Yourself? In the stable of our humanity, which had become a shelter for animals, that is, mortal sins.”
-St Catherine of Siena-
as found in Divine Intimacy
by Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD