The Meaning of the Resurrection

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory (Col. 3:3-4).

The Resurrection of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ. This is the third day of the Paschal Triduum and it is the day that will never end for the Resurrection of Our Lord is our life and our hope of glory. So we sing: This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Although the celebration of Paschal Triduum began on Holy Thursday with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, our journey to the Cross of Our Lord began in earnest on the Friday before Palm Sunday when we commemorated Our Lady in Passiontide and her Seven Sorrows that culminate on Calvary, at the foot of the Cross and in the burial of Our Lord. The compassion of Our Lady is a source of inspiration that enables us to share in and alleviate the sorrows and sufferings of others. In a certain sense, this Marian compassion is intensely Eucharistic because the gift and mystery of the Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament of Charity; and these are the realities upon which we establish our life in Christ. The Eucharist is His Real Presence among us and as such the source and summit of our lives as Catholics. To be authentically Catholic it is absolutely necessary to live an intensely Eucharisticlife. And an authentically Catholic life is further enriched by the presence and guidance of Our Lady, whose fidelity at the foot of the Cross we contemplated on Good Friday. For this reason, an authentically Catholic life is intensely Eucharistic and Marian.

During these three sacred days we have contemplated the Easter mystery, the Paschal Mystery in all its depth and detail. What is set before us during these holy days is the path for the rest of our lives; and each year we return to the source of this path so that we might resolve to tread it with greater fidelity, determination and purpose. The path is Our Lord Himself and in His Passover He reveals Himself as the Way, Truth and Life, a life that will never end. We have walked with Him to the Cross; and while on earth, the Way of the Cross is a familiar path whether we bear our own cross or help others with theirs. The journey however ends not in the tomb for the tomb is empty. Christ has risen. His Resurrection is a historical event. The mystery of Christ’s resurrection is a real event, with manifestations that were historically verified, as the New Testament bears witness. In about A.D. 56 St Paul could already write to the Corinthians: ‘I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve…’ [St. Paul is speaking] here of the living tradition of the Resurrection (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 639). We who believe in Christ Our Saviour and Our Risen Lord are part of this living tradition of the Resurrection.

The first to be part of this living tradition of the Resurrection is Our Lady. Doctors of the Church, including St Ambrose and St Anselm assert that Our Lady was the first witness of the Resurrection. Pope Benedict XVI declared that this fact is based on the tradition proclaimed by ancient architectural and liturgical monuments, starting from Jerusalem itself. There are profound theological and spiritual reasons why it should be so. Over the centuries, the Church’s masters of the spiritual life have explained why Our Lord opened His forty days on earth after the Resurrection by appearing to His Mother. It is because the Resurrection was the fulfillment of the Annunciation. At the Annunciation, Our Lady submitted her will by faith to the word of God. At the Resurrection, her faith was rewarded by actually seeing and speaking with her glorified Son.

Moreover, in the Paschal Mystery, Our Lady’s Motherhood is expanded to include us. At the Annunciation, Our Lady became Mother of the Redeemer by giving Him the human nature with which He offered Himself on the Cross. At the Resurrection, she received Him in her arms, after having received from Him on Calvary the Motherhood of the Church. “Behold your son’. Through this same Mystery, Our Lady’s role as Mediatrix is likewise enriched. At the Annunciation, Our Lady became the link between Christ’s humanity and our own. She provided Him with the body He needed to sacrifice to the Father for our salvation. At the Resurrection, Our Lady completed this link by cooperating with Him as the mediatrix of the graces He began to dispense to the human family restored to merciful friendship with God.

We see then, that in Jerusalem on Easter Sunday, Our Lady’s participation in the Resurrection was the completion of her mission at the Annunciation in Nazareth. The Mother of Sorrows became the Cause of Our Joy. The joy that she experienced on Easter Sunday is the prelude to the perfect joy we shall experience on seeing Christ Our Lord, in soul when He calls us into eternity; and in body and soul after the final resurrection on the last day. All of this depends on our faith. We will be blessed, provided like Our Lady, we too have believed that the things promised to us by the Lord will be fulfilled.

Let us resolve then to live an intensely Eucharistic and Marian life of devotion; a life of intense charity and self-giving, both in prayer and good works. This is a life of meaning and purpose, a truly joyful life. The renewal of our spirits in the ever-present grace of the Resurrection assures us of a continual renewal of our lives. Our life of grace that is, the spiritual life is the assurance of our transformation in Christ and of life eternal.

The Paschal Mystery with all its power and meaning has enveloped us once again this year. And the joy of salvation is an ever-present reality. We rejoice in a historic fact of the past that Christ rose from the dead. We rejoice in the actual fact of the present – that through Baptism we share His death and Resurrection. We look forward to a certain fact of the future that Christ will come again to lead us into the eternal kingdom of His glory. Christ yesterday and today, Beginning and End, All times are His and all ages. To Him be glory and dominion through all ages of eternity.

In union with Our Lord, let us offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, [our] true and proper worship (Rom. 12:1). And in the blessing of our parish community, let us always consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together … but encouraging one another (Heb. 10:24-25). In union with Our Lady, Cause of Our Joy, we rejoice in the truth of the Resurrection and we endeavour to live by the radiance of this truth; setting [our] minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for [we] have died, and [our] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is [our] life is revealed, then [we] also will be revealed with him in glory (Col. 3:3-4).