Q : Archbishop J, what of the Resurrection?
I do not think we have begun to understand the decisive nature of the Resurrection in human history. We look at the Resurrection as an event that happened 2000 years ago. It is more than that: every day the power of the Resurrection invites us to open wide our hearts and let Christ in. It is both an event that changed everything and the power that continues to transform the disciple today.
St Paul would say: “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3:10–11).
St Paul understood that to know the power of Christ’s Resurrection, we also must participate in His sufferings.
Here is the human conundrum. We want to share in the Resurrection without first participating in Jesus’ loss and dismal failure, His shame and disgrace, His rejection and abandonment. Resurrection and participation in the Lord’s sufferings are inseparable.
Which comes first? Do we first encounter the resurrected Christ, which allows us to participate in His sufferings? Or does the participation in the sufferings open for us the portal to the Resurrection? As in most profound mysteries, the answer is both.
The Secret Mystery of the Cross
St Mark’s Gospel says: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mk 8:34–35). Here we see the willingness to embrace the cross is key to opening up all the mysteries of Christ. The fruitfulness of the disciple cannot be gained without embracing the cross.
On the other hand, while St Paul was persecuting the Church, seeking its destruction, he encountered the living God: “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied (Acts 9:5).
Here the risen Lord appears to St Paul, disrupting his life fundamentally. He then goes on to lose his life and pick up his cross every day in following Christ.
What does it mean, “… whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it”? Here is the drama of Christianity. If we believe in the Resurrection, we should not fear death, shame, disgrace, or death itself. Here, choosing to believe precedes seeing or experiencing.
If we believe in the Resurrection of the dead, then we believe that death will not have the last word. And we would not spend so much energy in preserving our life and avoiding the difficult things.
The cross is the way to true life. If we believe in the Resurrection fully, our sacrifice will be more wholehearted. We will not second guess ourselves or God and we will give all, not counting the cost. This is to live in the power of His Resurrection.
Author Ronald Rolheiser, in his book The Passion and the Cross explores this great mystery. He says: “In giving Love away in total self-sacrifice at the cost of humiliation and brokenness and death, we ourselves come to what is deepest and fullest in life” (Chapter 2). The way to Resurrection is through the cross.
The T&T Soul Wound
So why do we seek to avoid the cross and the difficulties in life? Well, that is our soul wound. That primordial wound—shame that keeps us believing that we are not worthy of love.
Remember author Brené Brown said: “Wholehearted people believe they are worthy of love and belonging and so receive it.” If we don’t believe, we will not receive the love and belonging that we are seeking.
During the last 40 years, our nation has lived with an economic boom that has been phenomenal. Through this boom we have put things and material progress ahead of family, relationships, and a fully developed self.
If we look at the generations, the grandmothers are better, generally, at making the daily sacrifice that makes us truly human. Today’s generation of parents have lost something of the sacrificial nature of life. Their children have been raised to believe we can find fullness of life without sacrificial living.
To appreciate the divine human structure of redemption we must begin with the central point of all human history—God raised from the dead Jesus Christ our Lord (Acts 4:10).
This is not just a fact; it is the beginning of our faith journey, our point of departure. If we accept this through faith, then this belief will restructure our being to align us with His perfect will.
St Paul writes in the Letter to the Romans: “God is the One who raised Christ from the dead, and he will give life through his Spirit that lives in you. So, my brothers and sisters, we must not be ruled by our sinful selves or live the way our sinful selves want. If you use your lives to do the wrong things your sinful selves want, you will die spiritually. But if you use the Spirit’s help to stop doing the wrong things you do with your body, you will have true life” (8: 11ff).
There is a direct connection between faith in the Resurrection and the way we live our lives. This is not pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps. This is giving into God who raised from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. It is faith in the Resurrection that gives us the capacity to be open to the transforming power of God.
Humans are dynamic, we have the capacity to grow and develop at every stage of our existence. Real transformation begins from the foundational belief that God raised Jesus from the dead. Through this belief we slowly begin to realise we no longer have need to save our lives and, we can lay it down freely.
We also begin to realise that shame and disgrace no longer has power over us, God has taken our shame away. And, we very slowly begin to realise we can live sacrificial lives because God has given us everything we need through a love that is total, complete, and inexhaustible.
When we have allowed ourselves to be loved with this extreme and unstoppable love, we will know in every part of our being we are worthy of receiving love and belonging. Then we will begin to give our lives away, recognising it is God and God alone at the centre of the cosmos who is leading each of us to a life, fuller than we could ever imagine.
This Easter, call on the living God, who raised from the dead Jesus Christ our Lord; ask Him to raise your mortal body also, to reconfigure your heart to know the utter fullness of God.
Human transformation comes through immersion into the death and Resurrection of Christ.
Ask God this Easter to lead you to a deeper faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.