Friday, April 13, 2012

“The Resurrection: Center of our Faith” (Msgr Thomas Wells)

“From the Pastor’s Desk”
Spiritual Reflections
Msgr Thomas Wells

April 10, 1994
“The Resurrection: Center of our Faith”

Some Catholic Churches today have images of the Risen Lord where once they would have had a traditional crucifix. The image of Christ Resurrected tried to portray Him as triumphant over death and invites us to reflect on our destiny to share in His victory. However, even though the Resurrection is the center of our faith, I think it is safe to say that most Catholics still feel more comfortable with the traditional image of Christ’s crucifix.

Part of the reason for this, I think, has to do with the fact that it is easier for us to identify with the Cross than with the Resurrection. Most of us have experienced that life can be quite hard – even cruel – and that the promise of the Lord that we will be invited to share in His Cross is one that He will surely keep. In preparing couples for marriage, for example, I find it easy to think of possible ways in which their love and commitment will bind them closely to the suffering of Christ, but it is harder to give concrete examples that describe the Resurrection life that is also at the heart of every Christ-centered marriage. Did you ever notice, as another example, how fervently Catholics observe the Lenten season and how quietly we celebrate the equally long season of Easter? Lents looks forward for forty days to Easter and then, after one day, Easter is forgotten. Yes, for whatever reason, we seem more comfortable meditating on the Cross than on the Resurrection that followed it.

The main reason for this, I suppose, has to do with the simple question of experience. I have an idea what the pain that will lead to death is all about, but I have virtually no concept of what it means to rise from death. Also, it is comforting to know that where I will go in the experience of pain and suffering, Christ has already gone. But, after all is said and done, the point of life is not the Cross and death, but union with the Risen Lord and the life He has won for us. All of the Church’s symbols – the flowers, the gold and white vestments, the light of the Easter candle, the new water of the baptismal font – speak during this season of the promise of life that belongs to those who believe.

The experience of the Resurrection is not one that necessarily must wait until death, but it is one, I suspect, that can only come to that person who has embraced the Lord Jesus in whatever way He comes to us. Christianity seems foolishness to the world, and it most surely involves the Cross, but the person who follows Him, not matter where He leads, must surely know at least a bit of the joy and triumph that the Apostles knew on that first Easter.

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