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The All-In Reality of the Empty Tomb


"Faith in the Resurrection of Jesus says that there is a future for every human being; the cry for unending life which is a part of the person is indeed answered." ~ Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Saint Paul minces no words in today’s 1st Reading (Corinthians 15:12-20) on matters pertaining to the Resurrection. “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised,” he explains, going on to say “and if Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.” This is the harsh reality. This is why the Resurrection is without question the cornerstone of the Catholic Faith. If Jesus did not conquer sin and death and thus subsequently walk out of that tomb, he doesn’t merely slide down the hierarchy of evangelical figures, slotting in somewhere between a prophet and a kind and compassionate historical figure.

There are but two options left to categorize Jesus if he did not rise from the dead: con man or lunatic. The Bible would be relegated to a semi-factual history book. The Eucharist nothing but an airy gesture. All the Sacraments, in reality, become nothing but pomp. . . the 600-some reflections that I’ve written reduced to mere fiction. In his book ‘Life in Christ,’ Father Raniero Cantalamessa says “In fact, everything that exists and moves in the Church - the sacraments, doctrine, institutions - draws its strength from Christ's Resurrection." 11 of the 12 Apostles died some of the most barbaric and excruciating deaths imaginable as a result of their steadfast defense of their friend Jesus’ Resurrection. Skinned alive, fed to wild and ravenous animals, crucified upside down; no one would succumb to any of those fates in defense of a fairy tale.

In today’s Gospel (Luke 8:1-3) we read a very brief snippet of the early stages of our salvation history, the road that would lead to Jesus’ death and resurrection.. We learn that as Jesus traveled from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God, he was not only accompanied by the Apostles but also many of the strong and prolific women of the early Church such as Mary Magdalene

In his Letter to Women, which he penned in June of 1995, Saint Pope John Paul II remarked “The creation of woman . . . marked from the outset as a principle of help: a help which is not one-sided but mutual. Woman complements man, just as man complements woman: men and women are complementary.” He would close the letter with this message: “Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.” Beautiful sentiments.

We’ve reflected upon the wounds of Jesus and their profound significance in prior essays Today I’d like to leave you with some thoughts from Saint Thomas Aquinas regarding these wounds and why our Savior will bear them for all of eternity. According to Saint Thomas Aquinas, our Lord kept in His glorious body the marks of his wounds for four primary reasons. “As an everlasting testimony to his victory. As proof that he is the same Christ who suffered and was crucified. As a constant and concrete plea on our behalf to the Eternal Father.“ And finally, “As a means of upbraiding the reprobates on the last day, showing them what he did for them, thus reminding them of what they have wickedly despised and rejected.”

“We proclaim your death O Lord. And profess your Resurrection. . . . until you come again.”

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