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What is the Resurrection?

Julian Paparella

Thursday, April 20, 2023

What is the resurrection? Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is the resurrection of Jesus, three days after his death. This is what we celebrate every year at Easter. It is also what we celebrate every Sunday, the day of the resurrection! That is why Christians all over the world gather on Sundays. Death could not imprison Jesus. He is the Living One. He is the Risen One. He goes to meet the disciples on the road to Emmaus, enters the Upper Room where the apostles are gathered, and lets Thomas touch His hands and side. He is truly risen! 

Jesus raises Lazarus and the daughter of Jairus

But the resurrection of Jesus is not the only time in the Gospels when a person comes back to life after death. For example, Jesus raises his friend Lazarus, who had been dead and buried for four days. “Lazarus, come out!” Jesus shouts loudly in front of the tomb of His friend, who comes out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, his face wrapped in a shroud. “Untie him and let him go,” says Jesus. “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” (John 11:1-44) There is also the daughter of Jairus: Jairus is a leader of the synagogue who falls at Jesus’ feet and begs Him to come to his house, to save his dying daughter. On the way to the house, they receive the news that the girl is dead, but this does not stop Jesus. Arriving at the house, Jesus takes the little girl's hand and says, “Little girl, wake up!” She comes back to life, gets up from her bed, and Jesus asks them to give her something to eat. (Mark 5:21-24, 35-43) However in both cases, Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter are not resurrected forever. They return to earthly life, as if they had simply fallen asleep and been woken up again.

Jesus rises to resurrect all of humanity

Jesus does not resurrect us to continue our life here on earth quietly. In fact, the resurrection of Jesus at Easter is meant to raise us all to eternal life. That is why He died and rose on the third day. Not to show His personal power, but so that we can rise with Him and share His eternal life. Between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, Jesus descended into hell – as we say in the Creed – to free all those who are there waiting for God's promises to be fulfilled. We can think of all the righteous people of the Old Testament: Abraham, Moses, Ruth. Jesus came to resurrect them. But He wants to resurrect the whole human race. His resurrection is the recapitulation of the whole of creation, which awaits salvation. Easter Sunday opens our horizon to the Last Day, when Christ will raise all flesh. For yes, it is not just our souls that Jesus invites to eternal life, but our bodies glorified like His, and all creation renewed! “A new heavens and a new earth,” as the Book of Revelation (21:1) proclaims to us. 

Jesus rises to raise us up

You and I are called to resurrection and eternal life. This is the hope and the promise that Jesus gives us. He does not want to rise alone, but with us and with everyone. Already here on earth, in our daily lives, we can experience His resurrection. For example, in the moments when we are in despair, but then we receive good news. When we are afraid, but then we are comforted. When a challenge seems insurmountable, but we get through it anyway. When a friendship or relationship seems broken beyond repair, then the way to forgiveness and reconciliation opens up. When we are lost in the darkness of night, then a new day dawns. Saint John Paul II once preached: “We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!” Let us live this hope and joy that Jesus has obtained for us through His victory over death. His resurrection is also ours! 
Come, Lord Jesus, be alive in us forever. Amen.

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