Monday, December 20, 2004

1st Glorious Mystery: The Resurrection

Luke 24: 1-5

I dreamt Padre in eternity,
Walking as strong as he used to be.
The night before, I'd seen his face
On the cross in Jesus' place.
This is true: one season, I prayed the rosary and pictured the faces of family and friends in the roles of people in the various tableaux. For some reason, I felt moved to picture Padre's face as Jesus' on the cross. Having seen him in this role, it seemed appropriate to picture him as the Resurrected Jesus as well. And thus, I was able to see Padre as having ultimately overcome all the tragedy and heartache that had undone him.

Traditional catholic theology teaches that the ultimate sin is despair. If one has despaired of God's grace, how can it find them? How will they recognize it? This is one reason suicide is seen as a sin: it rejects God's gift of life, and despairs of God's saving grace. You can understand how troubling this might be for me, as I refer to the last ~20
years of Padre's life as "slow-motion suicide." Even if that phrase is inaccurate, it would be fair to say that Padre's melancholy was overcome by despair.

So, this vision of Padre rising from the dead was, for me, a healing vision. If it comforts me that Padre accepted heaven’s joy at the end, it harms no one.
We have less historical evidence for the Resurrection than the Crucifixion. The uncharitable would call the Gospel accounts propaganda, rather than history. The earliest surviving account of Jesus’ life, in Mark, makes no mention of a resurrection.

I am certain of one thing: something incredible happened. People allowed themselves to be martyred for a significant time following Jesus’ death. That is, immediately following his death (accepting the story of Stephen’s death as accurate), to the time of Constantine. People don’t martyr themselves for nothing.

The world has seen many good people cut down early in life since then. Many men and women have spoken truth to power since then, and have been killed as a result. No one has claimed that Martin Luther King, Jr. rose from the dead. So far as I know, no one has started an alternate religion based on the teachings of Ghandi.

So, in this way (at least) the story of Jesus is unique. People saw something unique in him, and tried to live as he taught. They were willing to die rather than reject his teaching. These are no small matters.

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