Resurrection as Reward and Transformation by Monsignor Ferrarese

If walking the walk with Christ defines our Holy Week observance, what are we to make of this mystery of the Resurrection? How can we walk the walk if the path is unknown and unseen and we are not even sure our legs know how to walk on this water?

When we talk about Resurrection, we are talking about Mystery. This is meant not like a mystery story which is a puzzle to be solved, at the end of which we discover who did the murder and why. Mystery with a capital “M” is a supernatural environment that requires an act of faith on our part and an act of courage in moving forward into the unknown, fully cognizant of the risks involved, but absolutely confident in the goodness of the endeavor and the rightness of the action. We move onto holy ground that requires the humble act of removing the sandals of our reason and bowing before the incomprehensible, yet fully felt, love of God for us, for me.

The Resurrection was an historical event that happened in our world and could be seen and even touched in its reality. It was an event, moreover, that involved God in His totality as Trinity. It was an event that had a meaning and a purpose for us all.

In the Resurrection, the Father raised Jesus from the dead and thereby vindicated Christ’s mission and His sacrifice and the Father’s own trust in the Son when both at His Baptism and at His Transfiguration He enunciated His judgment: “This is My Beloved Son in Whom I am very pleased.”

The prayer of the Son, Jesus, to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane is answered in the Resurrection of the Son from death. It is the third and most powerful “Yes” of the Father to the Son (the others occurring as has been said in the Baptism and the Transfiguration). It turns the silence of God in the Garden and on Calvary into the loud and final proclamation of love by the Father.

In John’s Gospel, this is immediately linked with the bestowal of the Holy Spirit (in Luke it occurs in the Pentecost event) by the breathing of Jesus on the assembled apostles, on the assembled Church. This breathing forth (one must remember that the Hebrew word for ‘Spirit’ and ‘Breath’ is the same: Ruach) is intimately bound up with the power to forgive sins. This controversial power that caused so many problems for Jesus, is now spectacularly given to the Church and Her Sacramental system.

Therefore, we see that the Resurrection is not simply a personal event that happened to Jesus. We get this idea when we say that Jesus is risen. This makes Him the doer of the act of resurrection; but this robs the event of its Trinitarian and ecclesial reality. In the Resurrection, the Father of Jesus has the last Word (this is not just a pun!). Jesus, a condemned and executed man, hated by both the religious and the secular authorities, is raised to life by the Father Whom He served so faithfully; and for the accomplishment of Whose Will, He deliberately traveled to Jerusalem where it was commonly known a most unwelcome welcome awaited Him. Jesus is vindicated by the action of the Father in His Resurrection. Once more, though not in words but through this action, the Father says, “This is my Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!”

It is in this context that the Church was born by the breathing of the now living Jesus on His apostles. In this theological understanding, the Church was born in the Resurrection event as He breathed the Spirit on His Apostles and gave them the power to forgive sins, a power that heretofore was reserved to God alone. The reconciliation of humankind with God and among all humans with one another has begun. The Church, from this point onwards, moves to building the Kingdom of God.

The Resurrection then becomes our story.

This new narrative is manifest not only in the broad outline of our own suffering, death and individual resurrection, but also in the daily deaths that we experience. There is a song in the great Sondheim musical “A Little Night Music” that contains the repeated phrase: “Every day a little death…” In the pessimistic Sondheim universe, this is sung as a kind of refrain of futility; but there is a living truth in it. The drama of redemption does not just happen at the end of our earthly life. Every day we experience the Passion, the Death and the Resurrection in our faith as we see in our daily life the outline of what we celebrate every Holy Week. It is the pattern by which we live and move and have our being. It is the pattern of Christ.

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