Monday, April 20, 2015

The Answer of the Resurrection

Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them, "Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day..."
(Lk 24:45-46)
According to many commentators, Blessed Fulton Sheen was living the New Evangelization long before Pope John Paul II coined the phrase.  The beloved son of the Diocese of Peoria, Sheen's cause for canonization continues to move forward, and part of the reason is his brilliant scriptural reflections, such as the following commentary on this passage from Luke's Gospel:
"It is not his Sermon on the Mount that He would have remembered, but His Cross.  There would have been no Gospel had there been no Cross; and the death on the Cross would have been useless for the removal of human guilt, if He had not risen from the dead.  He said it behooved Him to suffer because He had to show the evil of sin, and evil is most manifest in the Crucifixion of Goodness.  No greater darkness would ever descend upon the earth than that which fell upon Him on Calvary.  In all other wars, there is generally a gray, or a mixture of good and evil, on both sides; but in the Crucifixion, there was black on one side and white on the other.  For the worst thing that evil can do is not to bomb cities and to kill children and to wage wars; the worst thing that evil can do is to kill Goodness.  Having been defeated in that, it could never be victorious again ....
"But if Our Lord took the worst the world had to offer and then by the power of God rose above it; if He, the unarmed, could make war with no other weapon than goodness and pardon, so that the slain had the gain, and they who killed Him lost the day, then who should ever be without hope?  Who shall ever despair in any momentary defeat by evil?  Who shall fail to trust when he sees walking in the darkness the Risen One with glorious scars on hands and feet and side?  The law He gave was clear: life is a struggle; unless there is a Cross in our lives, there will never be an empty tomb; unless there is the crown of thorns, there will never be the halo of light; unless there is a Good Friday, there will never be an Easter Sunday.  When He said: 'I have conquered the world,' He did not mean His followers would be immune from woes, pain, sorrow, and crucifixion.  He gave no peace which promised a banishment from strife; for God hates peace in those who are destined for war.  If the Heavenly Father did not spare His Son, He, the Heavenly Son, would not spare His disciples.  What the Resurrection offered was not immunity from evil in the physical world, but immunity from sin in the soul.
"The Divine Savior never said to His Apostles: 'Be good and you will not suffer'; but He did say: 'In this world you shall have tribulation.'  He told them also not to fear those that kill the body, but rather to fear those who can kill the soul.  Now He told the Apostles that His life was a model for all of His followers; they were encouraged to take the worst this life had to offer with courage and serenity.  He said that all sufferings were as the shade of 'His hand outstretched caressingly.'  No talisman was He to promise as security from trials; rather as a Captain He went into battle in order to inspire men to transfigure some of life's greatest pains into the richest gains of the spiritual life.  It was the Cross of Christ that raised the questions of life; it was the Resurrection that answered them."
Fulton J. Sheen, Life of Christ (1944), pp. 522-24.