“He is risen! He is risen indeed!”
When we say these words, we are both affirming a historical fact and proclaiming a great mystery. It is a fact that at a particular time and in a particular place, Jesus was unjustly condemned, brutally put to death, anointed and buried, and three days later rose from the dead. This we profess every Sunday. It happened. And everything that we believe, not just about our religion but about the entire universe, stems from it. As St. Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1Cor. 15:14).
But the death and resurrection of Jesus is also a great mystery. The resurrection changed the entire world and changed it forever. Consider how the sacred writers describe it.
In the resurrection, God has done a “new thing” (Isa. 43.19). The resurrection marks the dawn of a “new creation” (2 Cor 5.17). It is the sacrifice that forever ended the need for other sacrifices — the ultimate sacrifice that accomplished “once and for all” the redemption of the human race through the forgiveness of all sins (Heb 7:27, 10:3-4). It marked a “power shift” in the universe, as the Lord of this world, the devil, was cast down, (John 12:31) and a new reign — a new and everlasting Kingdom — was inaugurated (Ps 145:13; Rev 12:10). It tore the veil in the Temple, allowing access for all of us sinners to approach freely and with confidence the very center of God’s presence in the world (Heb 10:19-22). It has brought a new power into the universe, one available to all of us: the power to conquer sin, to overcome our great enemy, and to defeat death — the power to live forever.
How to understand so great a mystery?
We might begin our reflection by recalling that our Easter celebration is much more than a memorial. We are not simply calling to mind something that happened two thousand years ago — the death of an innocent and noble man who is vindicated by rising from the dead. No; to “remember” in the biblical sense, as we do in a special way at every Eucharistic celebration, is to encounter Jesus alive — right now. It is to encounter him “actively present with power” at this moment (Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, 218). The Resurrection is far more than the story of one man’s victory over death: it is the story of every human being’s victory over death — thanks to Christ’s sacrifice. Thus it is the source of real power for us today — power to overcome sin, to overcome fear of death, to approach the Creator of the universe with confidence, to share in Christ’s victory over the devil, and to be born again into a life everlasting.
Consider this power as it relates to the Apostles themselves. Their encounter with the living Jesus was more than the reunion with a beloved friend and teacher. It had a much deeper impact on them than any of Jesus’ miracles, including the resurrection of Lazarus. The resurrection of Jesus transformed their lives. It made them capable of what before the resurrection they had not the power to do — to give their lives for their Lord.
What a difference!
It is one thing to profess with one’s mouth that Jesus is Lord; it is another thing to stake one’s life on it. Think of Peter: He had indeed professed that Jesus was Lord and God, but when the time came to stake his life on it, he didn’t have the power to make good on his words. After the resurrection, he had the strength to live up to what he had earlier professed. The resurrection of Jesus introduced a new power into the world, one that we, his disciples, can receive and claim. Consider the testimony of the countless martyrs over the centuries, some mere children. Consider their power to laugh at death for the sake of the love they have for Christ. What a new and remarkable power this is!
Let us always keep before our eyes the power of the resurrection. Let us live these challenging days confident in the truth that because Christ lives, we also will live (John 14). And no matter what we face or what is asked of us, let approach Jesus, “whom [God] appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe” (Heb 1:2), with absolute confidence, knowing that nothing is impossible in his power and by his might. Let us set aside fear and anxiety, knowing that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39).
Brothers, because of the power of Christ’s resurrection, we are capable of far more than we can imagine. We are capable of fulfilling God’s will for our lives, which surpasses anything we could ever envision for ourselves. So let us recommit ourselves as his servants, as his Knights, to go or to stay, to speak or to be silent, to fight or to withdraw, to make sacrifices and even to die, as he commands. Walking in the power of the resurrection, let us be his loyal Knights, loving until the very end.
Originally published in a special bi-weekly edition of Knightline, a resource for K of C leaders and members. To access Knightline’s monthly archives, click here.
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