The resurrection invites us to leave sin and death behind Print
Bishop Hying's Column
Thursday, Apr. 23, 2020 -- 12:00 AM

We may be tempted to think that once Jesus had risen from the dead and sent the Holy Spirit upon the early Church, the lives of the Apostles were easy; after all, they were filled with the light and joy of knowing that the Lord had conquered sin and death; they knew that He was with them in the power of the Holy Spirit and the sacraments of the Church.

Yet, a simple reading of the Acts of the Apostles reveals that they met with immediate and violent opposition when they began to proclaim the Resurrection of Christ. Those who had conspired to kill Jesus certainly did not want Him coming back from the dead. How much easier for them if He had remained cold and lifeless in the tomb.

Proclamation of resurrection seen as subversive threat

The rising of Jesus on Easter Sunday is a clear and compelling confirmation of the truth of His identity as the Son of God and the Savior of the world. If Christ were inexplicably alive again, in a new and glorious fashion, such an astonishing fact demanded faith in Him and a devout adherence to His teachings and the truths of the holy Gospel. The proclamation of the resurrection is a subversive threat which must be silenced, in the minds of those who violently opposed the teachings of the Master during his earthly life.

After Peter and John heal the blind beggar in Acts 3, the Sanhedrin -- the same body which condemned Jesus for blasphemy on the night of His arrest -- summons the Apostles for questioning, attempting to frighten and intimidate them into silence.

Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, mounts a bold defense, fearlessly proclaiming the risen Jesus as the savior of the world. The same man who cowardly denied even knowing Jesus in the moment of the Passion, is now filled with an evangelizing zeal which cannot remain silent. The Sanhedrin threatens the Apostles but cannot deny the truth of the miraculous healing of the beggar which has all of Jerusalem talking.

Satan wants Jesus to remain in tomb and followers to be silent

The fact that all of the Apostles, with the exception of John the Evangelist, were martyred for their faith in the risen Lord reminds us that proclaiming the Gospel is dangerous business. Satan, the master of the sinfully established disorder of things, wants Jesus to remain in the tomb and His followers to stay fearfully silent.

If Jesus Christ has been raised and is the Lord of Life and the center point of human history, then every person is called to follow Him and live by His teachings, to enter in this New Covenant, sealed in the Precious Blood of the Son of God, and there discover healing, forgiveness, and salvation. Evil does not want salvation to happen.

If Jesus Christ has been raised, then the abortion industry must close, euthanasia cease, the radical economic inequalities which afflict us end, the forces of greed, lust, violence, and selfishness surrender, and the reign of sin and death admit that God has definitively defeated them.

New moral and social order

If Jesus has come forth from the tomb and reigns forever, this fundamental truth becomes the keystone for an entirely new moral and social order of things. Early Christians stood out from the crowd, not only for their heroic charity and contagious joy, but also because they rejected infanticide, hedonism, materialism, and sexual profligacy, common practices of the culture they lived in.

For many years now, Western civilization has fallen prey to the illusion that "willful desire" should be the guiding principle of human action. In the areas of sexuality, economics, politics, and even religion, the subjectivity of the autonomous self dictates one's course of action. Appeals to objective truth, natural law, moral principles, and religious doctrine are dismissed as echoes of a regressive consciousness which modern humanity has finally overcome.

What a different Spirit exudes from the pages of the New Testament! In the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles, the writings of Saints, Paul, John, Peter, Jude, and James, Christians clearly understood that faith in the risen Lord Jesus Christ demanded a radical and profound conversion of morals, values, practices, and beliefs.

Christians had left bad habits, sinful practices, and destructive attitudes behind. They needed their hands and hearts free in order to receive the astonishing Good News of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the transformation such a gift offered.

Thankfully, it is the same for us 2000 years later! The Lord Jesus invites us to leave sin and death behind and step into the vast, beautiful world of the Resurrection.

I value this quotation from Francis Cardinal George: "If the earth is our mother, then the grave is our home and the world is a closed system turned in on itself. But if Christ is risen from the grave and the Church is our mother, then our destiny reaches beyond space and time, beyond what can be measured and controlled. And therein lies our hope."