Raised From The Dead - ICWG

By Francis Fernandez

ICWG Easter Sunday

The Resurrection of Our Lord, the basis of our faith. Jesus Christ lives: hence the great joy of all Christians.

The Lord is truly risen, alleluia. To him be glory and power for all the ages of eternity, alleluia, alleluia. [1568]

‘When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalen and Mary, the mother of James, and Salome brought spices with which to go and anoint the dead body of Jesus.’ Very early on the following day, just as the sun is rising, they come to the tomb (Mark 16:1-2). And on entering it they are dismayed, for they cannot find the body of our Lord. A youth, clothed in white, says to them: ‘Do not be afraid. I know you seek Jesus of Nazareth: non est hic, surrexit enim sicut dixit – he is not here, for he has risen, as he said (Matt 28:5).’

He has risen! Jesus has risen: He is not in the tomb. Life has overcome death. [1569]

The glorious resurrection of the Lord is the key to interpreting his whole life, and the ground of our faith. Without this victory over death, says St Paul, all our preaching would be useless and our faith in vain. [1570] Furthermore, the guarantee of our future resurrection is secured upon the resurrection of Christ, because although we were dead through sin, God, full of mercy, moved by the infinite compassion with which he loved, gave us Christ ... and He raised us with him. [1571] Easter is the celebration of our Redemption, and therefore the celebration of thanksgiving and joy.

The Resurrection of the Lord is a central reality of the Catholic faith, and has been preached as such since the beginning of Christianity. The importance of this miracle is so great that the Apostles are, above all else, witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. [1572] They announce that Christ is alive, and this becomes the nucleus of all their preaching. After twenty centuries this is what we announce to the world: Christ lives! The fact of the resurrection is the supreme argument for the divinity of Our Lord.

After arising by his own power, Jesus, glorious, was seen by the disciples, who were able to ascertain that it was He: they were able to talk with him, they saw him eat, they saw the marks of the nails and the lance ... The Apostles declare that He manifested himself to them with numerous proofs, [1573] and many of these men died testifying to this truth.

Jesus Christ lives. And this crowns us with happiness. This is the great truth which fills our faith with meaning. Jesus, who died on the cross, has risen. He has triumphed over death; he has overcome sorrow, anguish and the power of darkness ... In him we find everything. Outside of him our life is empty. [1574]

He appeared to his most holy Mother. He appeared to Mary of Magdala, who is carried away by love. And to Peter and the rest of the Apostles. And to you and me, who are his disciples and more in love than Mary Magdalen ... the things we say to him!

May we never die through sin: may our spiritual resurrection be eternal ... You have kissed the wounds in his feet ... and I, more daring – because I am more a child – have placed my lips upon his open side. [1575]

The light of Christ. The Resurrection – a powerful call to the apostolate.

St Leo the Great says in a beautiful way [1576] that Jesus hastened to rise as soon as possible because He was in a hurry to console His Mother and the disciples: He was in the tomb strictly as long as was necessary to comply with the three days that had been foretold. He rose on the third day, as soon as He could, just before sunrise, when everything was still dark, [1577] in advance of the dawn with his own light.

The world was benighted. Only the Virgin Mary was a light amid such darkness. The Resurrection is the great light for the world: I am the Light, [1578] Jesus had said; light for the world, for all ages of history, for every society, for each man.

Last night, while we were taking part – if were able to – in the liturgy of the Easter Vigil, we saw how at the outset there was total darkness inside the church, this being the image of the profound darkness in which humanity was plunged without Christ, without the revelation of God. Then, in an instant, the celebrant proclaimed the exhilarating, wonderful news: May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds. [1579] And from the light of the Easter candle, symbolizing Christ, all the faithful received the light: the darkened church was now illuminated with the light of the Easter candle and the candles of all the faithful. It is the light the Church lets flood over the earth, submerged as it was in darkness.

The Resurrection of Christ is a powerful call to apostolate: to be light and to carry the light to others. To do this we must be united to Christ. St Paul gave a motto to the Christians at Ephesus: ‘Instaurare omnia in Christo’ (Eph 1:10), to fill everything with the spirit of Jesus, placing Christ at the centre of everything. ‘Si exaltatus fuero a terra, omnia traham ad meipsum’, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to myself. Through his Incarnation, through his work at Nazareth and his preaching and miracles in the lands of Judaea and Galilee, through his death on the Cross, and through his Resurrection, Christ is the centre of the universe, the First-born and Lord of all creation.

Our task as Christians is to proclaim the kingship of Christ, announcing it through what we say and do. Our Lord wants men and women of his own in all walks of life. Some he calls away from society, asking them to give up involvement in the world, so that they remind the rest of us by their example that God exists. To others he entrusts the priestly ministry. But he wants the vast majority to stay right where they are, in all earthly occupations in which they work: the factory, the laboratory, the farm, the trades, the streets of the big cities and the trails of the mountains. [1580]

Appearances of Jesus: the encounter with his Mother, to whom He appears first. Living this liturgical time very close to Our Lady.

The Blessed Virgin, who was accompanied by the holy women through those hours of the crucifixion, did not go with them in their pious attempt to finish embalming the dead body of Jesus. Mary Magdalen and the other women who had followed Jesus from Galilee had forgotten the words of the Lord concerning his Resurrection on the third day. Our Lady knew He would rise. In a spirit of prayer that we can scarcely imagine and cannot describe, she awaited her glorified Son. The gospels do not tell us of the appearance of the risen Christ to Mary. Nevertheless, since she was so specially close to the Cross of her Son, she must also have had a privileged experience of his Resurrection. [1581] It is an ancient tradition of the Church that Jesus appeared first of all to his Mother in solitude. It could not have been otherwise, because she is the first and principal co-redeemer of the human race, in perfect union with her Son. Alone she would have been, since this appearance would be for a reason very different from the reason for the other appearances to the women and the disciples. He had to reassure and comfort them, and win them to him definitively in the faith. The Blessed Virgin, who had become the Mother of the human race now reconciled with God, did not at any time cease to be in perfect union with the Blessed Trinity. Every last vestige of hope in the Resurrection of Jesus that remained on earth had been gathered into her heart.

We do not know how Jesus appeared to his Mother. He appeared to Mary Magdalen in a form she did not immediately recognise. He joined the two disciples making for Emmaus as a traveller catching up with them on the road. To the Apostles assembled in the cenacle he appeared behind closed doors ... In an intimacy we can barely comprehend, He showed himself to his Mother in such a form that she would have known him instantly in his glorious state. He would also have shown her that He would not continue the same life as he had done before on earth. [1582] After the pain she had endured, Our Lady was filled with an immense joy. The star of the morning shines not so lovely, says Fr Luis de Granada, as the Mother’s eyes shone in that gracious face of hers, the unblemished mirror of divine splendour. She sees the body of her Son risen and glorious, the disfigurement of his Passion gone, the grace of those divine eyes returned, his previous loveliness restored and increased. The openings of the wounds which had been sword-thrusts of pain for the Mother – to see them now as fountains of love; to see the One who had suffered between thieves, attended now by angels and saints; to see the One who commended her to the disciple from the Cross reach out his loving arms now, his visage radiant with unutterable peace ... Take her, do not leave her. Embrace her and ask her not to let go. Then, stricken with anguish, she had not known what to say; now, mute with joy, she cannot speak. [1583] We join in this immense joy.

It is said that each year on this holy day St Thomas Aquinas counselled his hearers not to fail to congratulate the Blessed Virgin on the Resurrection of her Son. [1584] And this is exactly what we do, beginning today, by reciting the Regina Coeli which will take the place of the Angelus during Eastertide. Queen of Heaven, Rejoice. Alleluia! For He whom you did merit to bear has risen as He said ... And we ask to be raised up forever from all sin, to remain in intimate union with Jesus Christ. Let us resolve to live this Easter period very close to Our Lady.

[1568]  Entrance Antiphon , cf Luke 24:34, cf Rev 1:6

[1569] St. J. Escrivá, Holy Rosary, First Glorious Mystery

[1570] cf 1 Cor 15:14-17

[1571] Eph 2:4-6

[1572] cf Acts 1:22; 2:32; 3:15; etc.

[1573] Acts 1:3

[1574] St. J. Escrivá, Christ is passing by, 102

[1575]  idem , Holy Rosary, First Glorious Mystery

[1576] St Leo the Great, Sermon 71, 2

[1577] John 20:1

[1578] John 8:12

[1579]  Roman Missal, Easter Vigil

[1580] St. J. Escrivá, Christ is passing by, 105

[1581] John Paul II, Homily, Guayaquil, 31 January 1985

[1582] cf F.W. Willam, The Life of Mary

[1583] Fr Luis de Granada, Book of Prayer and Meditation

[1584] Fr J.F

Francis Fernandez Carvajal was born in Granada in 1938. A graduate in History from the University of Navarre, he also hold a doctorate in Canon Law from the Angelicum in Rome. He is a priest of the Opus Dei Prelature. Since his ordination in 1964, much of his pastoral ministry has been with university students. For more than ten years he was editor of he montly magazine PALABRA. Among his published works are   Lukewarmness- the Devil in Disguise, Overcoming Lukewarmness,Through wind and Waves, and Commentaries on the Gospels of St Matthew and St Luke

His Series In Conversation with God can Be found Here

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