Saturday, March 22, 2008

For Maria

A co-worker flattered me yesterday, Good Friday, by asking me to read and comment on a printed copy of the testimony she will be giving tomorrow (at her church, I think). It was a personal, heartfelt witness to the death and resurrection of Christ. She defended both the reality and the meaning of these events. Given time, I would have made extensive suggestions for re-working it. But, mercifully there was none. I endorsed her testimony, wishing her success.

Here, below, is a specifically Catholic testimony in that same theme. Here's wishing Maria fullness of joy. Remember, it's the Holy Spirit that gives power to our words:
“ not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour”
(Matt 10:19 RSV)

Resurrection Sunday: "1 Corinthians 15:1-8 ESV 1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you- unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

Central to the preaching of all the apostles and of St. Paul who is quoted above was the historical fact that the tomb was empty and that the risen Jesus appeared to them--not as some sort of spirit or psychological projection but as a real person in a real but transformed body. The first century Christians were not credulous dummies as many today, with great and unfounded daring, assume about people in ancient times. The first century Jews knew that, in the natural course of events, the dead do not rise again. They knew the difference between a mere vision or 'spirit' and a real person. They would not have called a mere vision or a mass emotional experience of grief a matter of resurrection from the dead. They would not have used resurrection from the dead to describe such events. Read the writings of evangelical biblical scholar N.T. Wright to see these points massively documented in great detail by a first-rate mind.

If you meet a Christian who claims that the emptiness of the tomb was irrelevant, who claims that the risen Jesus was just a spirit, who claims that the grieving apostles were just compensating for their emotional trauma after the crucifixion, know this with absolute certainty: that is not the Christianity of the Bible preached by the apostles. If you are in a congregation or denomination where that sort of watered down version is pushed or tolerated as a viable option, get out if you want real Christianity. Or at least admit that what you are being served is not the real thing and that it is all play-acting signifying nothing remotely biblical or apostolic. If you want the power of the healing of Jesus Christ in your life, you have to believe that he left that tomb empty, that the body was raised and transformed and is still working on our behalf. And, if you are Catholic or Eastern Orthodox, know that you also receive that same risen body in the great and very real mystery of the Eucharist.

(Via Catholic Analysis.)

No comments: