THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
The Resurrection of Christ
A very zealous young preacher recently came upon a farmer working in his field. Being concerned about the farmer's spiritual well-being the preacher asked the man, "Are you laboring in the vineyard of the Lord my good man?"
Not even looking at the preacher and continuing his work the farmer replied, "No, these are soybeans."
"You don't understand," said the preacher. "Are you a Christian?"
With the same amount of interest as his previous answer the farmer said, "Nope my name is Jones. You must be looking for Jim Christian. He lives a mile south of here."
The young determined preacher tried again asking the farmer, "Are you lost?"
"No! I've lived here all my life," answered the farmer.
"Are you prepared for the resurrection?" the frustrated preacher asked.
This caught the farmer's attention and he asked, "When is it going to be?"
Thinking he had accomplished something the young preacher replied, "It could be today, tomorrow, or the next day."
Taking a handkerchief from his back pocket and wiping his brow, the farmer remarked, "Well, don't mention it to my wife. She don't get out much and she'll wanna go all three days."
Many of us are more like this farmer who’s quite confused, if not skeptic, about the whole idea of the resurrection. With our limited intellectual capacity, it seems hard to understand and even think about the Catholic faith’s understanding of Jesus Christ who rose from dead and conquered sin and death. To further clarify this truth, Jesus answered the Sadducees’ tricky queries in this way:
1. First of all, Jesus says that we only marry in this world. Jesus was actually telling the Sadducees that we live in a transitory world. Therefore, things of this world including marriage prepare us and direct us to something more important as eternal life. This includes the things that are considered to be sacred like the Sacraments. In as much as the Sacraments give us the necessary graces for a share of Divine Life here on earth, they too speak of a greater reality as they are “signs” that speaks about the eternal. Therefore, our faith in the resurrection matters so much. If we believe in the resurrection and in life eternal, it also follows that we believe in things that are “sacred” just like the Church and Sacraments, etc. As they direct us to Christ.
Question is: How do we prepare ourselves for eternal life? There are clear signs of the sacred in our midst, how do we take them as “instruments” as they direct us to our ultimate end?
2. The second part of Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees involved going back to Scripture. Essentially his argument was that on Mount Sinai God spoke to Moses and spoke of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in terms that made it sound like they were still alive. Our God is a God of the living. If the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is a living God then Abraham, Isaac and Jacob must be alive in his presence. If they still live, there must be a resurrection of the dead. Remember that the physical body WAS the person for the Jews. Without the body, the soul ceases to exist also and so no life after death.
What does this mean to all of us people of this earth? Our Christian HOPE does not come from knowing the details, not even from knowing the best answers to the mystery of the resurrection. Our hope comes from knowing Jesus…from our trust in the power and love of God. There is no other source of hope; we aren’t going to learn any of the details on this side of our journey. So we are called to hope, to real, dynamic, living hope, based solely on our trust of God. We are called to simply surrender our questions and our difficulties and our puzzles of logic and to trust that God will handle things better than we could ever imagine; and that his love and care for us will surpass all that we can ask or imagine. When we die, and when those we love die, God’s love does not die. And because he is a God of the living, we know that we too will live in his love.
3. Finally, Christ gives us a hint of a best way to prepare spiritually for our death and the life to come. It is not to try to figure out the details of the afterlife, but to work on trusting God more and letting go. Be willing, like the brothers in our first reading, to live your life knowing that we will live on, and making moral decisions and living to our faith in order to prepare for what is to come. Trust in the living God. As the psalmist says: He will never forsake you.
It is very timely that when I was reading this Sunday’s Gospel, I received an email from my former Rector in our local seminary in the Philippines. I was saddened by Him leaving the priesthood. What struck me, however, were these very lines which gives allusion to our Gospel this Sunday:
… For your consolation, please know a scriptural truth that in heaven I will still be a priest, even as you should also know another theological truth that however happily married you are here on earth, in heaven you will not anymore live as husband and wife. And so may I ask you all to shout ALLELUIA.
Believe me, for a new priest, this wasn’t inspiring at all. But believing in the truth of the resurrection, I was able to see my former Rector’s message as a precaution. No matter what state of life you may live, what matters is actually the WAY YOU LIVE IT so much so that our actions are truly reflects the life thereafter, a life of FAITH, HOPE and everlasting LOVE.