The Glorious Resurrection

For most Christians, Jesus’ resurrection is an anti-climax. Mistakenly, they believe that the whole mystery of redemption took place on Calvaryand climaxed with Good Friday. Easter simply tells them the fate of Jesus after his great act of love on the cross. Easter victory is reduced to the payment of a debt. This distorted view of God’s plan for our salvation has existed for at least a thousand years, right up to the 20th Century, leaving most Christians deprived of the fullness of the Good News.

How did distortion enter theological thinking? Through the centuries theologians focused on redemption and on satisfaction as an explanation of redemption, excluding resurrection from their thinking. In the introduction to Fr. Francis Durrwell’s book, The Resurrection, Charles Davis explains it this way: “If redemption equals satisfaction, the resurrection, which is not a work of satisfaction, is not redemptive.” What we have finally come to understand is that resurrection and redemption are intimately connected and dependent on one another. You can’t have one without the other.

For those who do not appreciate the resurrection’s significance, the Risen Christ is only a weak notion; the Holy Spirit, the forgotten Person of the Blessed Trinity. However, grasping the resurrection’s meaning becomes the point of departure on our spiritual journey where we embrace Jesus in all his dimensions—as the Historical Jesus, as the Risen Jesus, and as Jesus who pours out the Spirit on us—to form a dynamic, integrated spirituality.

Forever Triumphant. What is the significance of the Jesus’ resurrection? By becoming incarnate, Jesus accepted solidarity with the sinful human race. Except for sin, he became subject to suffering and death. Incarnation into our earthly existence meant a self-emptying on the part of Jesus. Jesus’ redeeming death transformed the person of Christ, brought him out of this world of sin and death, penetrated him with the Spirit and exalted him as Lord of the whole of creation. It was through his resurrection that Jesus entered into his power and glory. Now let us look at the relevance for us..

Forever Sacrament. When Jesus rose from the dead, he put a permanent seal on all his life as a source of sacramental power and redemption. All of Christ’s life became the visible, sacramental expression in this world of his saving act of divine love. This expression is not limited to his death on the cross. That is why St. Thomas Aquinas says that all the mysteries of Christ’s life were efficient causes of our redemption. So, that makes all Jesus’ life experiences and words sacramentals for us, contributing to our redemption. The resurrection transforms the history of an itinerant preacher into a here and now power source for us. The goal of our Christ-centered spirituality is to connect with this power source by absorbing Jesus’ radical faith, hope and love.

Forever Life-giving Spirit. Jesus lived during his life on earth under the guidance of the Spirit. After the resurrection Jesus called down the outpouring of the Spirit upon his disciples. From the moment of Jesus’ glorification, the activity of the Holy Spirit spread out among all his faithful, as we read in Acts. The giving of the Holy Spirit crowns Jesus’ work of salvation. Fr. Durrwell calls it “the essentially messianic grace.”

For the Christian, a deep relationship with the Spirit is essential. Jules Toner, SJ states: “Human life is Christian life in the measure that it is lived under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of Christ.” The goal of our Spirit-centered spirituality is to connect with the Risen Jesus’ outpouring of the Spirit upon us, to awaken us to the Divine Dialogue that God has with each one of us through the Spirit, and to be open to the Spirit as our Higher Power, guide and source of our courage to complete Jesus’ mission.