There is a very funny film adaptation of a novel by the great English Catholic writer named Evelyn Waugh. The name of the novel and the film is “The Loved One”. The story is a humorous send-up of the funeral industry in California during the 1950s.
In the course of the film and the novel, the owner of the vast cemetery (hilariously played in the film by Jonathan Winters) decides that he is not making enough money from the land and decides to turn the cemetery into a resort with golf courses. The only problem is that there are a lot of dead bodies buried in it! So, he decides to create little rockets that will send the individual remains flying through the air and into the stratosphere. In explaining his plan to the Board of Trustees, he decides to call this new program: “Resurrection Now!”
Of course, this is a satire, but the title he gives to the program is intriguing, especially as we enter the season of Easter, the season of the Resurrection of Christ.
When we think of the Resurrection, we normally and naturally think of either the past or the future. It was 2,000 years ago that Christ rose from the dead, when his friends, family and disciples discovered the empty tomb. And, conversely, when we think of our own resurrection of the body we are catapulted into the (hopefully distant) future.
But, taking from our fictional foray into the Resurrection given to us by the author Waugh, how does the Resurrection affect us now? Is it just an historical event or a future pledge of glory?
Once again, as so often is the case, we turn to St. Paul. All Christian Spirituality is a footnote to St. Paul. It is not an accident that he wrote more of the New Testament (of course under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) than any other human author including St. John and St. Luke. He issues a great call and tells us of his deepest wish when we cry, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). But that implies that he wishes to receive those graces now and not just when he dies.
What is the nature of these graces?
Since the Resurrection was an event of cataclysmic proportions, the graces likewise would be gigantic and powerful. The Resurrection of Jesus defeated evil and death and gave new hope to every human being. It was the ultimate validation by the Father of the compassionate and redemptive love of the Son of God. Twice while Jesus lived His early life, He heard the affirmation of the Father: at His Baptism and at the Transfiguration. Both times the Father said affirmingly: This is my beloved Son; and at the Baptism—I am well pleased, and at the Transfiguration— listen to Him!
One can readily see that the Resurrection of Christ (perhaps more accurately put: The Raising Up of Christ by the Father) was the ultimate proclamation of the death of Death and of the victory of Christ over evil.
The graces of that victory can have powerful effects in the baptized. In Baptism, we all were put into the grave like Jesus; and, like Him, we were raised into a new life by the power of the Father. We then receive the Easter Graces that empowered the resurrected body of Jesus and that sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to found the Church.
One can readily see that even now we can experience the Resurrection through the graces won by Christ and given to us at our Christening. All we need to do is believe in the Resurrection of Christ and, like St. Paul, believe that Jesus is alive and ready to enter us through the power of the Spirit in His Holy Word and His Sacred Body and Blood.
Yes, this Easter Season we can truly experience Resurrection Now!
“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” – Romans 6:5