The Reality of the Resurrection

Indeed, the apostolic preaching with all its boldness and passion would be unthinkable unless the witnesses had experienced a real encounter, coming to them from outside, with something entirely new and unforeseen, namely, the self-revelation and verbal communication of the risen Christ. Only a real event of a radically new quality could possibly have given rise to the apostolic preaching, which cannot be explained on the basis of speculations or inner, mystical experiences. In all its boldness and originality, it draws life from the impact of an event that no one had invented, an event that surpassed all that could be imagined…. 

All of us are constantly inclined to ask the question that Saint Jude Thaddaeus put to Jesus during the Last Supper: Lord, what is all this about? Do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world? (Jn 14:22). Why, indeed, did you not forcefully resist your enemies who brought you to the cross?-we might well ask. Why did you not show them with incontrovertible power that you’a’re the living one, the Lord of life and death? Why did you reveal yourself only to a small flock of disciples, upon whose testimony we must now rely? 

The question applies not only to the Resurrection, but to the whole manner of God’s revelation in the world. Why only to Abraham and not to the mighty of the world? Why only to Israel and not irrefutably to all the peoples of the earth? 

It is part of the mystery of God that he acts so gently, that he only gradually builds up his history within the great history of mankind; that he becomes man and so can be overlooked by his contemporaries and by the decisive forces within history; that he suffers and dies and that, having risen again, he chooses to come to mankind only through the faith of the disciples to whom he reveals himself; that he continues to knock gently at the doors of our hearts and slowly opens our eyes if we open our doors to him. 

And yet – is not this the truly divine way? Not to overwhelm with external power, but to give freedom, to offer and elicit love. And if we really think about it, is it not what seems so small that is truly great? Does not a ray of light issue from Jesus, growing brighter across the centuries, that could not come from any mere man and through which the light of God truly shines into the world? Could the apostolic preaching have found faith and built up a worldwide community unless the power of truth had been at work within it?. 

He is alive. Let us entrust ourselves to him, knowing that we are on the right path. With Thomas let us place our hands into Jesus’ pierced side and’confess: My Lord and my God! (Jn 20:28).

Pope Benedict XVI

His Holiness Benedict XVI was pope from 2005 to 2013

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The Silence of Christ’s Death

The Silence of Christ’s Death 

For three days, the victory of darkness over light plunged the earth into a thick silence and a terrible anguish. The Messiah had died, and the silence of his death seemed to have had the last word. God himself seemed silent. His Son felt alone, abandoned to the torments of the cross. This was the most terrible moment of his earthly life. He was on the verge of death. Jesus had lost his strength and his blood. When he was nothing more than an exhausted, dyinq man, he uttered a great cry.

He was leaving this world and his Father had not shown the slightest word of comfort. Certainly the Virgin Mary, and Saint John were st the foot of the cross. But this sweet presence did not prevent him from shouting with all his strength that he had left: My God, My God, why have you deserted me? (Mt27:46). Jesus suffered from the apparent absence of God, but the confidence that he had always had in his Father did not fade. A few split seconds after this cry of pain, he prayed one last time to the Almighty for his executioners: Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing. And he expired, saying: Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Lk 23:34,46). 

On this earth, the only silence that must be sought is the one that belongs to God. Because the silence of God alone is victorious. The heavy silence of Christ’s death was of short duration, and it gave rise to life. 

The silence of Jesus’ death transforms, purifies, and appeases man. It causes him to be in communion with the sufferings and death of Christ, to come back fully into the divine life. This is the great silence of the Transfiguration because, unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest. Anyone who loves his life loses it; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for the eternal life. If a man serves me, he must follow me (Jn 12:24-26). 

Cardinal Robert Sara

Cardinal Sarah is the Prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments 

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A Light Unto My Path

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. Bishop Robert Barron 

The French philosopher Rene Girard proposed a provocative theory regarding the scapegoating mechanism. During times of crisis, he argued, human communities, by a deep and irrational impulse, seek to dispel the tensions they experience by identifying some person or some group whom they can collectively blame. One can see this dynamic at work on the smallest and on the grandest scale. When a handful of people enter into conversation, they will, for a time, speak harmlessly of superficialities, but almost inevitably, they will commence to blame, accuse, gossip. And entire nation-states often find their identity and purpose through a shared hatred of some group identified as dangerous or different. Hitler’s Germany is but an extreme example of the principle. 

The Gospels appreciated the Girardian dynamic long before Girard. The story of the woman caught in adultery is a case in point (Jn 8:1-11). And so is a small narrative within the grand Passion narrative articulated by Saint Luke. the Evangelist tells us that Peter, on the awful night of Jesus’ arrest, joined a group in the courtyard of the High Priests house, who had gathered around a fire, warming themselves against the cold. When they heard Peter’s Galilean accent, they one by one commenced to identify him as one of Jesus’ followers. Knowing full well what this might entail, Peter vehemently denied the charge, but they continued, hungry for a scapegoat. So panicked was the chief of the Apostles that he swore he had no knowledge of the Lord. The Girardian impulse distorts both the blamers and the blamed. 

How wonderful and strange that Jesus, on the cross, became himself a scapegoated victim. The crucified  Jesus demonstrates God’s judgement on this deep-seated and dysfunctional instinct. 

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