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By Felicitas Drobig, osu 

In the early 80’s, I went on an eight-day silent retreat at Immaculate Heart Retreat House in Spokane. It turned out to be a profound experience of resurrection for me. I had been living with, and focused on the cross, for a long time and really had no concept of resurrection, much less hope for resurrection. That retreat dramatically changed my life. I could not continue to cling to the cross once I had experienced resurrection. Oh yes—I knew about the resurrection of Christ, but it had not touched my heart. I think I kept looking for life in the empty tomb, while Christ was to be found among the living.

What would things be like if there had been no resurrection? We certainly wouldn’t have a Christian church, but would we get stuck on the cross? Except we wouldn’t have the concept of the cross as suffering either—we might just be forever immersed in our sorrow and pain.

The resurrection is the core of the Christian message, but too often we put most of the focus on the cross. The disciples who fled from under the cross because of the pain and shame associated with crucifixions, started preaching because they witnessed the risen Christ. They risked everything, even unto death, because of their unwavering faith in Christ risen.

We tend to assume the resurrection, but it is a fact that in the Acts of the Apostles, the resurrection is emphasized and the death is barely mentioned. In other words, for the apostles, resurrection was key. We get “excited” about the resurrection at Easter, but even then, people sooner go to the Good Friday services instead of the Easter Vigil. Is that because we understand pain better than resurrection?

Charles Spurgeon, a 19th century British preacher, felt that the preaching of his time lacked power and that this was because of a lack of emphasis on the resurrection. He, himself, stressed the message of resurrection and had many converts as a result.

In today’s world, the message of resurrection is needed more than ever. There is so much death and darkness surrounding us that it is easy to get fixated on the cross. But as Mother Teresa said, “Without the resurrection, the cross is meaningless.” Without the resurrection we would be living without hope. Was it easier for the disciples than it is for us, to wholeheartedly embrace the resurrection because they experienced the Risen Christ? Resurrection is ongoing and as Martin Luther said, “Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” Just think of a flowering tree in January and how gnarled and dead it looks. In May, it is draped in an array of blossoms, proclaiming resurrection and life.

Resurrection is a rebirth. Just as earth awaits resurrection, we await resurrection from our own and the world’s darkness. Pope Francis stated that, “We proclaim the resurrection of Christ when his light illuminates the dark moments of our existence.” If only we are open to the grace of God, we will experience our own resurrections, be they big or small—it may be sunshine after days of rain, a friend’s cheerful support, healing after a long illness… “When we are open and receptive to the grace of God, it is possible to experience a resurrection, a re-surrection—a rising of the divine from the depths of ourselves.” (William Sykes)

Jesus’ resurrection changed the world forever. What difference can we make by our “re-surrection” moments? We are called to practice resurrection every day and thus bring Christ’s love and hope into the world. Despite a global pandemic, despite war in Ukraine, violence and unrest in so many places, global warming, famine and refugee crises, we have to give witness to the resurrection of Jesus. Love is stronger than death because Jesus conquered death. He did not stay on the cross or in the tomb, he rose and walked among his disciples. Jesus brought life from the grave and can bring light into darkness. Knowing that, we are called to always persevere in hope.



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