RHODE ISLAND CATHOLIC EDITORIAL

Happiness is found in the empty tomb

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At Easter, the central mystery of our faith, the Resurrection, can present a stumbling block as St. Paul told us for many people of no faith and sometimes even those of faith.

A national survey was taken asking the question, “Do you believe that, after you die, your physical body will be resurrected some day?” Only 36 percent of those interviewed believed in the statement, while 54 percent said they did not believe and 10 percent were undecided. As St. Paul tells us, if Christ was not raised from the dead, our faith is in vain. If He was not raised from the dead, none of us have any hope of resurrection.

Belief in the Resurrection is central to our faith. In the Creed we recite at Mass, we profess not only our faith in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, but also our own eventual resurrection. Why do so many find it hard to believe in this central teaching of our faith? Perhaps some believe it, but not as directly as is stated in the Creed. Many seek immortality and a type of resurrection in biology. It is their children and grandchildren, their progeny, who carry on their life in some way. In our increasingly secular society others say that it is their achievements that guarantee a type of immortality so that they will not be forgotten. Sadly, some seek immortality in the practice of cryonics, that is, the freezing of bodies, awaiting the unproven science to resurrect them.

The story of the resurrection of Jesus is no myth; it is a mystery. It is not only the eyewitnesses of the apostles and disciples that encourage us, but also the lives of so many martyrs and saints down through the ages who have given their lives for Jesus Christ, the One who was risen from the dead. People do not die for historical figures, no matter how important they might have been to the world’s history, but many people do live and die for Jesus Christ.

As we approach this Easter let us reaffirm our faith in the resurrection, not only that of Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead, but also that of our own eventual resurrection on the last day. These are the tenets of our faith. Faith goes beyond what we can see and prove. Faith is a gift, given to us at our baptism knowing that on the last day the resurrected Jesus will raise us also from the dead. St. Augustine of Hippo said, "Are you looking for happiness? Then look to Christ, Who came to earth to share our misery, to be hungry, to be thirsty, to suffer a thousand torments. But, look at him now and see how on the third day he rose from the dead after his work was accomplished, and in that resurrection death itself died." Our happiness on Easter morning is to be found not in the empty promises of our secular culture but in the empty tomb of the resurrected Christ!