Have you ever been brave enough to ask yourself if you really do believe in Christ’s resurrection? Be assured it does require courage to ask the question. Whatever answer you arrive at demands a demonstrative response in the way that we relate to one another, the way we pray and in general in the way we live.
If we decide that the evidence and argument draws us to accept that there may be another explanation for what the women in the garden saw, perhaps we might think that they were overcome with emotion after Christ’s death, or they didn’t look clearly into the tomb or that someone had moved the body before they arrived, then it might be very reasonable for us to say that something unusual happened but it wasn’t rising from the dead.If on the other hand we accept Mary Magdalene’s account of the angel informing them that he who was once dead is now alive, that they actually saw the linen clothes lying on the ground, that the tomb was empty and that Jesus had actually done what he said would happen, then we can truly call ourselves people of the resurrection.
However we should be quite clear that neither proposition is arrived at easily, since there have been strong arguments to support both approaches over the centuries. Our acceptance of Christ’s resurrection is the pivotal Christian belief. We cannot call ourselves Christian and not accept that Christ rose three days after his death by crucifixion. Yet accepting this tenet is only half the story, because to believe in Christ’s resurrection is to believe in our own rising and all that it entails. In reality, most of us find ourselves somewhere in the middle of the two propositions. We live our lives with open options, just in case we hear a more convincing argument.
We don’t commit ourselves entirely to what resurrection asks of us just in case we need an escape from its life-changing expectation. That physical death has no power over us, that in death, life is changed not ended. Many appear quite happy to accept that Christ rose and leave it there. It doesn’t change their lives or their understanding of the world.
Easter then, is something of a “crunch” time. It is not a time of half-hearted involvement, of standing back till we are swayed one way or another. It is a time of courageous commitment, of not looking back, but bravely living a life without end.
Fr. Peter Dillon