This evening I am sitting here, a glass of wine in one hand and a lack of conversation on the other. DH is away on a business trip and he isn't due home until Wednesday.
My niece asked me yesterday what Easter meant and I have to say I appreciate it when children open a dialog so I tried my best to explain it in a simple and concise manner.
Easter. A Feast of Resurrection
Without resurrection, the Christian faith is pointless, yes, without resurrection (or: Without the news of it), there would be no Christianity today. It is at the very heart of our faith and it is what makes us Christians.
Not the eye for an eye mentality that seems to have enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in our country.
The old testament was included as a before / after snapshot of our faith. Where we came from and where we are now. Didn't you ever ask why hotel rooms only include the new testament portion of the bible? That is because that is the bible.
So what does this mean for us?
Our faith has spread even against fierce resistance over the centuries and it has prevailed. It has prevailed in the face of violence that sought to silence the message.
What is that message?
The message reads: "Jesus was resurrected and entered into the glory of God with his transfigured body."
This is how Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, put it. Thus, according to Archbishop Müller, Christianity is combination of hope that the Lord will come again to complete what began at that time, because: "With the resurrection of Christ, a real new creation took place. It is the beginning of the new world, the new heaven and the new earth."
Luis Ladaria Ferrer succeed Müller as Prefect of the CDF in 2017 but this message still holds. But they are not universally accepted.
Three typical objections
This new one irritates people.
Then, as now, there is vehement controversy over the truthfulness of the Resurrection message. The reactions are similar. When Paul tells of the resurrection in enlightened Athens, three groups form: The sneers, the nuts, the faithful (Acts 17, 32-34). If this seems very familiar to you there is a reason why. Not from the sermon on the Agora, but from discussions in the forum. Sure: Resurrection is a matter of faith. Still, it can also be approached as a historic event and examine the plausibility of the news.
Three thoughts come to mind.
The news of the resurrection could be a lie, a small deception that took on gigantic proportions. At that time, such intentions of fraud were already speculated – among the Jewish authorities (Mt 27, 62-66). That's why the stone, that's why the guards. But why does Matthew mention this? If there was the fraud, those words could serve to shift an explanatory argument for the skepticism that occurred.
What clearly speaks against the fraud thesis, however, is the story of the original congregation, the young church.
You give up a lie at some point when the price gets too high, you admit a scam when the resistance gets too big. At least you retreat in silence. But the opposite is true: Against all odds, the news is spread. Why did they hold on to it, even though it very often cost them their lives? Why did they persevere so well in the lie, if it was one?
What is worth more than one's own life? But only one truth worth dying for. And no lie! Paul himself said that it was not worth dying for the faith if it were not for the resurrection as the true core of that faith (1 Cor 15, 17-19).
If foreign delusion goes out, though, it could still be self-delusion.
Then they might have only imagined and persuaded themselves to the resurrection. Something like this is quite conceivable.
Hallucinations are – especially since – are not rare in stressful situations.
But it's hard to imagine different people in different places suddenly suffering from the same psychosis that then lasts for decades and is apparently highly contagious. Not only did the disciples have the overwhelming sense of their Lord's palpable presence, but a whole host of other people, including those who had never followed Jesus or even persecuted him and his followers, including Paul (1 Cor 15, 3-8). And with his vocation, mass psychosis (that is, the apparitions of the resurrected Jesus) ends again – as suddenly as it began?
Possible but unconvincing.
We have only the biblical testimony of the resurrection.
That is very little.
This was certainly clear to the first Christians. Now it is the case that if you are already aware of the thin ice you are moving on, you do not necessarily jump around on it. But that is exactly what the evangelists do.
In an almost negligently naïve way, people are introduced as the main witnesses of the resurrection, who do not apply anything in ancient society: Women – times two (Mt 28, 1), times three (Mk 16, 1), sometimes a whole group (Lk 24, 10) and here Mary of Magdalen (Jn 20, 1).
This detail is particularly piquant because, according to the ancient legal view, it was entirely the testimony that mattered to prove the truth of a fact; An independent investigation into the circumstantial evidence as we know it today did not take place – the verdict led to either the confession or credible testimony.
Now women of all people are called to testify! And a man who had lied three days earlier: Peter (Lk 24, 12). The evangelists shamelessly report this, too. But why are they telling the story so implausibly? The only plausible answer is this: Because it happened just like this.
That is, it is true.
Here John, in the meeting of Mary of Magdalen, another detail emerges.
Mary seeks her Lord Jesus, whose relationship with her and the disciples was abruptly ended with death on the cross. That's what Mary thinks at least and so she seeks Him. This seems most plausible to her when she spots a man at the grave. It is only when she hears her name that she recognizes Him and the old relationship arises again: Jesus mentions her name – as he did during his lifetime. The living relationship is restored: It is not the relationship between the mortuary nurse and the dead man, but Mary's original relationship with Jesus.
Those who see the Resurrection merely as a historical fact and try to reconstruct it as such miss the dimension of infinite salvation in eternal life, which gives Christ's resurrection meaning to our existence, and also deprives faith of its deepest mystery.
For the Christian faith is not exhausted by the mere realization of facts, but also consists in the admission to what eludes our immediate view.
The news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is incredible. But true. We are allowed to celebrate it and we are to witness it so that it continues spread and all people learn what Easter is all about.
This is what I tried to explain at least, this is not how I tried to explain it.