The Spiritual Meaning of the Resurrection
by Joseph McCloskey, S.J.
Resurrection is God’s personal response to who we are. The heart of Jesus pierced on Calvary blankets us with the blood of salvation. The warmth of Christ’s love touches the loose ends of our lives. Christ has died for us and we want to be with him forever. Resurrection is much more than a destiny; it is the fulfillment of love. Christ’s love of the Father, even to death on the cross, promises a stake in heaven when we own Christ’s death. The Cross and Resurrection of Christ are our salvation and our foothold in heaven.
Resurrection ought to be an integral part of us. Resurrection implies many simple statements of our faith. God is in our world! He loved us so
much that he sent his only Son to redeem us! God let His only Son die ignominiously on a cross! Resurrection should not be something we are
vaguely waiting for after we die. The destiny to be with God forever is part of who we are now in God’s love. Christianity is living the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our love of God needs the resurrection as an energizer. Christianity without the resurrection is a mockery of God’s love. God wants us with him. Wanting to be with God is the force of the Resurrection touching our lives now. People without hope have the resurrection as a missing link in their lives. A continual growth of resurrection’s meaning in our lives gives us a firmer foothold on heaven. Christ’s death calls us to our own resurrections. The difference resurrection makes in our lives defines the final meaning of life. Knowing what awaits us in the resurrection surpasses our powers of imagination. The ?infinite ocean of mercy? of the Sacred Heart resolves doubts about personal resurrection. On the day we die all question marks will be removed by Christ’s loving heart. The mystery will be over, and we will know how worthwhile it was to respond to that love.
VICTORY ALREADY WON
The Resurrection involves us personally with Christ. He claims our hearts when we look up at his cross. Seeing Mary and the young John standing close by, we can feel a part of that scene. Christ says to his Mother: “…Behold your Son!”(John 19:26) Christ is really speaking to us when he says to John: “Behold your mother!” Christ dying on the cross tells each of us his mother Mary is to be our mother and we are to belong to her in a special way. Our hearts expand on the journey to Calvary with even a glimpse of what happened. The resurrection brings victory to the death on the hill of Calvary. Our Eucharistic acclamation of faith, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again,” proclaims our hearts HOPE in the victory already won.
The resurrection had its beginning on the hill of Calvary. Going from the Christ on the cross to the Christ of the resurrection encompasses our lifetime. We envision this Christ of the resurrection at the end of our lives as someone we are going to meet, see and touch. If the resurrection is going to motivate our lives, then our hope of the resurrection should be expressed every day of our lives. The significance of saying “yes” to living the resurrection does not automatically change our lives. Our “yes” to now changes our lives. Now always touches eternity.
The Resurrection gives rise to a consideration of heaven. To live fully demands having a meaning to our lives beyond the present moment. Trauma in our lives blocks the memory of a hurt and keeps us from facing what resembles the bad experience. Unable to move toward something pain-filled in our lives, we fine in resurrection a motive for looking at even hard things in our lives. We get hints for the meaning of our pain in the historical life of Christ whose heart, opened on the cross, tells us something about ourselves. People search for the meaning of their lives in many different ways. Faith, searching for deeper faith, begins with an answer and becomes meaningful in the Risen Christ. Christ’s love calls us to an even deeper understanding of self, based on the realization that in Christ we have a foothold in heaven NOW. The resurrection helps us face life’s difficulties. The Resurrection brings something beautiful to the pain, poverty, and displacement which wrack the human frame. Marx called religion the opium of the poor. Our opium should be the resurrection. Graces received from the resurrection lift us up to confront life’s problems with confidence and excitement.
Christ was filled with joy when he returned to his Apostles with the gift of his peace. Touched by Christ’s resurrection his joy becomes our joy. Resistance to the resurrection comes from fear of death. The resurrection, source of hope in its promise of new life, offers the treasure for living well. The resurrection of Christ allows us to hope for what we missed during life. Christ came that we might all have a share in his life. We would like to have him around us all the time. Even as Christ came back to his disciples and friends, the resurrection promises us the chance to return to those with whom we would like to have stayed. The resurrection will be the opportunity to finish everything we have left undone. Love has a need to give the best of everything to the beloved. The problem with responding to Christ’s gift is our love often fails to meet the standard of the all given on the cross. The resurrection is the unfinished being finished and the incomplete being completed. All the love we have had for our friends on earth attains its ultimate meaning in Christ. The fullness of our union with Christ opens our hearts to all that was missing in our friendships. The resurrection is the completion of all in Christ. Love, begun in time, needs the promise of the forever of Christ’s resurrection.
Resurrection is the goal reached. Until then our souls are constantly restless. We can perhaps kid ourselves that we have found what we have been searching for all of our lives. The fact is, that even when we think we possess the most joy and excitement of life we have ever had, we are already looking for something more. As soon as something starts to repeat itself and we know we have the wherewithal to handle the problem with which we are dealing, the restlessness begins. It is hardly noticed at first because there is the hustle and bustle of things to be done to get caught up and stay current. Eventually we have gone as far as we can go. Horizons, where we could go on forever, are barely touched before we are pulled off in other directions. We stake out a territory and try to claim a meaning to our lives which has to do with the job we are doing. In truth, the territory now has other bosses and the job gets done whether we are there or not. We grow in the realization that the job was not the meaning of our lives. We discover, in our relationship to Jesus Christ the true meaning of our lives. He is the goal for which we are made. In him we can find all that is missing. Our foothold in heaven is the destiny of each of us, and in finding Christ we will have the truth of ourselves even as we accept his peace and can rest IN HIM contented FOREVER.
Joy and peace abound when the goal of reaching Christ is attained. It is Christ who will bring us to the Father. It is Christ who, by dying for us, will give us belonging. We can imagine Christ’s joy as he says to his Mother and his disciples: ?I am his son.? What is now humanly known to him by hearing his Father call HIS name, is ALSO knowable by us. The Father is his Father, and the Father is our Father. Baptism puts Christ in Our Souls. The flowering of baptism is our dying by which we are called to eternal life. The resurrection is the rite of coming of age in heaven. Acceptance is then for us in his name. The statement of the goal reached is made in hearing ourselves called by his name. We recognize that name, and the way that it is said gives us cause to believe that we really do belong; we really are part of his family. All of our lives we strive to be accepted for ourselves, and suddenly we know that acceptance is in being called by the “family” name.
We are called by his name because we are meant to be other Christs. Baptism gave us not only his life, but also the right to his presence in our life. Christ becomes the source of the resurrectional grace in our hearts. That which we have no right to expect happens; the Father is our Father. The Parable of the Prodigal Son says it so simply; the return of the sinner to the family makes our Father happy. Our life in the resurrection makes a difference to God. We do not have to wait for heaven to enjoy his life. There is nothing unimportant in our lives. Real freedom is doing what Christ has revealed as love for the Father. The Commandments themselves are the truth of our belonging to God. How much we love Christ is seen in our living the Commandments. What we could have spent years figuring out for ourselves has been revealed to us from the earliest years of our lives in the commandments of God. God has revealed the secret of happiness in the comandments.
FACT OR FICTION
The resurrection is the greatest of all the gifts which has been given to us by God or it is an outrage and a magnificent deceit foisted on the human race. Are we willing to say that the resurrection is our life’s greatest dream? Are we willing to say that because of the resurrection we are willing to promise ourselves never to commit a mortal sin, never even to commit a venial sin, or even to walk into an ambiguous situation? Are we willing to be at a point in our lives where every person we have ever known suddenly becomes one person in the Christ of the resurrection? If we can convince ourselves Christ is in everyone, then every person in our lives will begin to make sense in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We will be able to take up the need, the hurt, and the pain of everyone who comes into our lives. If we do not see the resurrection as making a difference, here and now, then we have to face up to the fact that we have been conned, taken for a ride, made a part of the greatest hoax in history.
How do we know if the resurrection makes a difference? The answer is so simple. Look at the altar of sacrifice. The bread and wine offered on that altar signify Christ’s promise of everlasting life to those who eat his body and drink his blood. We come before the Eucharistic table asking for this moment be really present to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Eucharist is the celebration of the Last Supper and the death of Jesus. The resurrection can not be left out of this celebration. The resurrection mystery is part of an equation which is death plus resurrection equals the victory of Christ. Christ, who is in heaven is in the Eucharistic mystery now a reality here on earth! Eucharist by touching the resurrection gives all of us access to our foothold in heaven. When a priest holds up the bread and says: “This is my body,” he has entered into the power of the resurrection. It is the event of two thousand years ago. By those words the priest has committed his life and the lives of those who celebrate with him to Eucharist. All have been joined together in the power of Christ’s promise of eternal life. Past, present, and future meet. The expression of faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again, becomes an alive moment! Christ is not only present in Eucharist, but
the gift of every heart now comes together with Christ’s resurrectional friendship. We allow our lives, in varying degrees, to be absorbed into the power of the resurrection. We allow our lives and the sacrifice we offer to make a difference. We say “yes” to living the resurrection. We respond by freely offering up to the Lord all that we do. The resurrectional grace which makes this possible is found in Eucharistic faith and in the sharing of the Eucharistic Meal.
CHRIST TODAY IN US
How does the resurrection meet with the nitty-gritty of everyday life? How can we take up our cross and follow Christ if he died two thousand years ago? The death is over! Christ has the glory of the resurrection! How does this most sacred, solemn and touching moment here on earth become the same sacrifice? The mystery is more than we can ever fully appreciate. The Resurrectional Church celebrates the Resurrectional Christ. Christ who embraces us with his life of resurrection lives that same sacrifice in us. Our suffering belongs to this mystery, belongs to the resurrection of Christ. It is much more of a real sacrifice to us than we could ever have imagined because it is our sacrifice. Our joy at filling up what is wanting to the suffering of Christ’s body, his church, – makes Christ’s sacrifice real in our lives today. In Christ, our sacrifice becomes his Resurrectional sacrifice. His once and for all death of two thousand years ago becomes, in us, the same sacrifice. We fill up what is wanting to the Body of Christ by what we do for his church.
CENTERPIECE OF CHRISTIANITY
Every widow, every separated or divorced person, everyone who is lonely, old, hurt, weak and broken – for whatever reason, whatever outrage – live in the power of the cross of Christ by the hope of the resurrection. If we break off the resurrection from the cross of Christ in our lives, suffering obviously makes no sense. If we are living our lives in such a way that we do not honestly see in the resurrection of Christ some sense to what we are suffering in our daily lives, our pain of not being able to live up to responsibilities of family or friends, or whatever, has no meaning. Then Christianity is a mockery of what God’s love and mercy is all about. What we have to understand is that the Sacrifice of Christ is the centerpiece of all Christianity. All of the other Sacraments look toward what is done at the Eucharistic table where the fullest expression of the Mystery of the Resurrection takes place. Christ in our Eucharistic celebration claims all of our crosses for the glory of our resurrection.
RECOGNITION OF CHRIST
Love means doing what is best for another. It challenges us to live up to what is good and noble. It means living up to the Christ relationship. Thus the gift is given of being one’s self in Christ. We ave to reach an intense awareness of the Christ in our own hearts so that we can honestly say to anyone we meet: My Christ recognizes your Christ! If we affirm that Christ, we empower each other to step forth into the world in the name of Christ. If we do not have honor and reverence for the Christ of another’s heart, we do not truly love. The recognition of Christ is the greatest gift we can give to anyone. The power of the resurrection is expressed by the definition of Church which calls it “the People of God.” The beauty of the Church is that the Resurrectional Church is truly the People of God! It is our responsibility to do something about anything that upsets the rights or needs of the poor. We will be judged before God on whether we did something about the needs of the people around us. Christ lives in the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the infirm, and the incarcerated. Christ identifies with all the needy. Anger is holy when it gives the energy to be involved in the search for solutions to pain. Because we are the Church as the People of God, it is our responsibility to live the power of Christ’s love. Our zeal for the poor expresses the power of the resurrection to all those around us. Our hope to make a difference makes hope a grace of the Resurrection. Christ is seen in what we try to do in his name for the poor.
THE LIVING CHRIST
The resurrection needs to be a lived experience with others. Because the resurrection belongs to the People of God, it is the shared experience which Paul captured in his realization that the Church is the Body of Christ. The special grace of being alive today is that we have come a long way from the Mystical Body statement of Pius XII. We see the Church as made up of the People of God. That brings us to the awareness of the resurrectional grace which is contained in Matthew 25, 40: “…insofar as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me!” The meaning of our service to the least one of our brothers and sisters is that Christ lives in the poor we serve. Christ is in all of the suffering men and women of the world. ”Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4) of Christ to Paul strikes fear into any serious minded Christian. Christ told his disciples at the Last Supper that if they were his followers they would be persecuted even as he was. He never told us to criticize one another. If something is of God, and has in it the life of the resurrection, it will survive no matter what the enemies of Christ have to say about it. The seed of martyrs is the seed of Christianity, where the life-blood of resurrection is passed on to us. It would be terrible to discover in the resurrection we had been against Christ. The good which people do belongs to Christ. That is why scandal, even when it is the truth about someone, and especially calumny, a lie about someone, are wrong. Champions of truth, once too many times, can be the persecutors of Christ in their brothers and sisters.
DRAWING POWER OF CHRIST
In the power of the resurrection, God becomes a friend. We have reason to be comfortable with him and with each other. The only difficulty in living the resurrection, in making it our way of life, will be in letting God take care of everything. We can never fully fathom in a moment of time the mystery of the resurrection. Images can tell us how much a difference the resurrection makes. It might be compared to an overloading of circuits with the energy of life. It is an expression of love where the human is held together by the divine. The Father’s love brings Christ back to heaven. In us the resurrectional grace is our humanness meeting a divine destiny. Christ’s joy draws us toward perfection. Just as perfect love generates a return, creation and birth come back to the Father in our resurrections when death puts periods on a life in time. Death and resurrection become the nativity of a life in eternity.
CHIPS OF THE CROSS
Any moment in the life of Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, would have been enough for our salvation. Christ went the extra mile to the cross. Our extra mile can be found in the claim Christ has on our hearts to go beyond the status quo. That we could want our Christ of the resurrection to wipe out our enemies is the all too human experience of anger. That we are called by the grace of the resurrection to announce the forgiveness of Christ means that we have a reason for being willing to accept our crosses. The lived experience of the resurrection does not keep us out of trouble. In truth, it gets us into trouble because our love takes us to where Christ is hurting. Christ is in the little ones of the world. What we do for them, Christ takes as done for himself. We may one day enjoy the excitement of our relationship to Christ in our sufferings which can be like chips off the block of Christ’s cross. Christ came for, the forgiveness of sins. We can be his forgiveness. The offering up of our chips for the sins of the world around us brings the Lord’s forgiveness to our world. Our sufferings can touch our brothers and sisters as the forgiveness of the Resurrection.
ACCESS TO HEAVEN
Anything can be a signal of Christ’s presence. Sometimes his presence is too well hidden, disguised by the sinfulness of life. We need Christ’s help to break the code. Christ’s hidden life, our awareness of the importance of any moment, and our love for the cross of Christ, can lead us toward the resurrection as a meaningful destiny in our lives. Awareness of Christ in our daily lives contributes to the Resurrectional Grace. This grace is the sum of the Christ experience in a person. The excitement of the resurrection pushes the choice of God forever in heaven. The hope for the resurrection is found in life. In the intensity of a passionate love affair with Christ, the desire to be possessed by Christ grows. Christ, our foothold in heaven, is our access to the Father.
A FATHER’S LOVE
The resurrection, an embarrassment of riches, HAS A LIFE OF ITS OWN! Just as it only takes a moment to love for a lifetime, the resurrection is the Eternal Moment of a lifetime to express love. The lived experience of Christ in our own lives makes each one of us a Child of God. We have no right to expect love, but we can receive it. The very mystery of creation includes the world which is always praising God just by being what it was meant to be – it could not be anything else. Yet, the love of God is such a mighty force that it goes out from him as a force of life which is the creation mystery. A true human relationship leaves us with our freedom. Perfect love generates a return. Any incomplete act in the human race has the need of fulfillment. Christ, by his death and resurrection, came to claim us for the Father. To say we are adopted children says a great deal, but it does not say enough, because, in the death of Christ for our sins, we become the recipients of the very love that the Father has for Jesus Christ.
CLAIMED BY GOD
Thus, we love God, and God, because we are living as children in his house, fills us with the power of the resurrection. This power enables us to give away our lives in the name of the love of Christ. The journey of life ends in the discovery of what makes our lives his life. In Christ, two natures are found in one person. What we would never have been able to understand about the nature of God (which is so much mystery that it needs all of eternity to be said) is said in the human nature of Christ in such a way that GOD MYSTERY IS HUMAN MYSTERY! The human life of Christ is the perfect statement of the mystery of the mercy and love of God. Humanity has been claimed by God, in Christ. We can claim, by asking Christ to die for us, the flowering of that relationship in our lives. We do not have to wait in line for God. We can look within, through the power of the resurrection, to find the joy that is the sign of God’s presence in our lives. God is so much a lover that he has been waiting all this time for us to want him. If there were hot-line, it would be in our hearts, as God waits for us to really call out for him. Then, he could come as the Lover rather than the Master.
THE SUN OF GOD
Resurrection speaks to our hearts. We need to love so much that we are totally lost in our beloved. Some do not like Paul because he was so “turned on” by Christ. He could make us feel like part-time Christians in comparison. Paul grows on us as we grow in Christ as the one love of our hearts. What you look at, you become. We find ways of looking at Christ in our lives, and we find that he was there even when we were not looking. Paul no longer seems so far out or out of reach in the way that he loved Christ and spoke about him. The truth of the resurrection grace is that the Son of God is like the morning sun. As Christ comes up in our lives, the darkness is pushed away. With the rising of the Son of God in our hearts in the power of the resurrection, we find him in so many more ways in our lives in the hundredfold that come to us for following him. The Resurrection makes us be treated all too well in his Name.The resurrection can be an attracting force that focuses our hearts on God. We go from a world divided to one where all hearts are one. There is no longer anything that is unimportant. We do not miss a thing. We have arrived where perfect giving and perfect receiving meet in the beauty of how much the Father loves the Son and, through him, us. We are truly the Communion of Saints, united through the resurrection in each other’s Christ. The Son of God shines brightly.
Sometimes, we might feel like hitchhikers on the road of life. We are going along with our thumbs out, waiting for someone who is on the way to the Resurrection to stop and pick us up, take us along. If anything is certain, at this moment of life, it is that we have to be willing to get out there and drive our own cars to the Resurrection. We have to be willing to get out of the traffic jams where we hide in the confusion of what other people are doing, and get out there in front, willing to be counted as one of those who belong to Christ. Love of the cross is a sign and symbol of a genuine contemplative. It reflects our love of Christ. The Resurrection is the sign and symbol of love expressed and has an excitement for life whose meaning is belonging to Trinity where all mysteries of life come to an end in God’s life shared forever. God is now understandable in Christ having been human; even as Christ the human becomes the CHOICE of our belonging to God.
The Resurrection can make a difference to us. When we have located one reason for personal joy in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have found the uniqueness of our relationship to Christ. Then we have a reason to love him so much we are willing to die for him. He already HAS SHED HIS BLOOD which has passed into the soil of life. Our shedding our blood brings a flowering of souls. Wet become part of Christ’s Eucharist by being his disciples in the carrying of our crosses for him to bring his peace to our world. In the light of the Resurrection, we believe:
- that Christ is our ‘foothold’ in heaven
- that suffering and resurrection cannot be ‘hyphenated; they must be ‘crossed’.
- that if we face the cross without the Resurrection, Christianity is a scandal and an outrage.
- that the Resurrection, as our, hope, is in the person Christ.
- that the world which was groaning for salvation has it in the suffering, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- that JOY is the infallible sign of the Resurrection.
- that the resurrection is the fullness of the joy of life.
- that if we treat someone as they can be with God’s love, we call forth the Resurrection of Christ in that person.
- that if we look toward the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we become what we see.
- that the Resurrection is lived by claiming it.
- that the Resurrection is the fullness of life.
- that eye has not seen and ear has not heard what awaits us in the fullness of what Christ has won for us in his passion, death and resurrection.
Heavenly Father, you have sent your Son into our lives so we may be touched with something of Divinity; that our hearts might be converted to belong entirely to you; that we might know ourselves as special and we possess within our hearts the power to carry us through every cross to the Resurrection.
Help us to understand this Mystery. Send your Spirit upon us so that filled with the love you gave the world by his second birth into heaven, we might know the meaning of life in his Resurrection and claim its meaning even now for our life here. Let the Resurrection really make a difference in our lives. Allow us to be integrated into the mystery of what we can be in the power and the glory of Christ’s Resurrection.
Open us to the love that is claiming us as citizens of heaven in the joys of Christ that are such a rich taste of what is coming. Mold us in the power of this hope that is ours in Christ. Let him tell us again and again how to be so totally your children we would never choose a passing pleasure of this world before the joy of always being yours. Allow us to be more united to your love each day. May our minds, hearts, and feelings bring us closer and closer to you. We would realize even now the joy of belonging totally to you so that all we would choose would be chosen in the love we have for you in your Son Jesus Christ. Let him be our foothold on heaven and our holiness now and forever. Let our stony hearts be taken away. Give us Christ’s heart so we may all be of one mind and heart destined for his resurrection and your love forever and ever. This we ask with all our hearts in his Sacred Heart. Amen.