Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Lessons of the Resurrection: Hints of His Love

Father John J. Lombardi

 "He (God) will revive us after two days, on the third day He will raise us up to live in His presence" (Hos. 6:2).

Easter is a time to celebrate and integrate the reality of the Resurrection, Christ' triumph over death-into our lives. God is constantly sending us "hints" of the Resurrection-are you catching them?

A lady came to the Grotto recently, along with her husband. And? Well, she literally did not have a nose or mouth, as part of her face was taken away by operations for cancer, with "blank spots"-holes-remaining. I've met this couple for months in their pilgrimages to the Grotto. We would talk and pray and hope. Just this past Holy Saturday they came again, and then the loving husband asked the wife to "show the surprise": the persevering lady reached down in a case, and then slowly put in a mouth piece where her teeth previously were, now giving her a mouth, and then put on an artificial nose in the center of the face, ever so gingerly; she finally put on her eye-glasses, as a finishing touch". She took a breath and then looked over at me, as if for a response: I saw not only a "new her," but. Jesus rising again in our world, thru a disciple. A hint of the Resurrection. The lady then gently smiled, fragile so, and the husband glowed humbly. We may think, when encountering such experiences in people of Faith: "The just shall shine as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father" (Mt. 13:43).

Easter is a time to remember the Lord's power to restore and awaken us. Sin deforms us; the Resurrection-power transforms us. As Adam disobeyed near the Tree in Eden, Jesus picked up the Tree of the Cross and died on it, and then overcame it. He subsumed suffering into salvation. He calls us to do the same. Suffering could never keep Jesus down-not even death. This lady and gentleman, by their suffering-patience, and their Faith in Jesus Christ Crucified and risen, are experiencing a Resurrection and showing it forth to others. Are you?

St. Paul attempts to more fully understand, and embrace Christ's Death and Resurrection, as a present-reality, when he writes: "May I know Him and the power of His Resurrection, and the sharing in His sufferings, by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the Resurrection from the dead" (Phil 3:10). Now, we may "know" Jesus and the Resurrection by theory or experience; and, similarly, we may "know" God by doctrine or Divine grace. Likewise, we may "know" Spring- the-word or smelling the reality of fresh spring roses. The choice is ours. God is giving us hints of His Love-are you experiencing these gifts and realities? What are some other lessons of the Resurrection?

Resurrection Revives us To Give like Jesus: Fr McGovern, aged 65 of Baltimore, was bringing Holy Communion to the sick one day, about ten years ago, and was smashed by a car. Blood went everywhere and the Lord fell to the ground. There began another Passion. "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies." (Jn. 12:24).Fr. McGovern was rushed to Shock Trauma in downtown Baltimore--barely alive. Everyone was prepared for the worst. I went to see him a few weeks later and was shocked: his head was swollen and his barely-recognizable Irish face was purplish and scarred; bandages covered his body and he lay there motionless, in complete silence. A few months went by, a few thousand prayers went up to Heaven and the Lord's power-after conforming Father to a kind of death (see Phil. 3: 10)-- began to shape in a kind of human resurrection. He recuperated, eventually began walking, made it home, and began bringing Communion to others again: no fear, no limp in his walk, a newly fashioned body. A miracle of sorts. Dead man walking. In him was not just theory of the resurrection but a re-presentation of it. Are you giving to others as much as this man? What is keeping you down? How can you overcome with Jesus' Resurrection power?

Avoid danger of spiritualism: Unlike some new age spiritualities and eastern religions, Catholics believe in a bodily resurrection- the body and uniting with the soul after the Last Judgment, and not only some nebulous spirit wafting into eternity (cf. Mt. 12:40; 16;21; 20:19; 27:63; Jn 2:19; as well as Mass readings the next few weeks). What does this doctrine and Christ's Resurrection mean? Well, because of Original Sin, our bodies and souls are now in a kind of disorder with the world and others; we get disease within; and have a disonance of passions. But, in the Resurrection our bodies and souls shall be put together by God in harmony, as a hand fits in a glove. This is our fullest happiness--when body and soul, like Jesus', are transformed by God's grace. Many think we will be kind of like robots in Heaven, ethereal spirits without out humanity. But the "entrance of Christ's humanity into the Glory of God" (Catechism #657), gives us hope. Our humaness, creatureliness, cleansed and liberated of sin, will be transformed, then brought into the Blessed Trinity. We will be realer, more holy and joyful, in heaven, after the Resurrection, not less so.

When Jesus rose from the dead he ate, talked and communed with people, showing us the possibility of a glorified state and body if we are faithful to Him. What humanness in you that is good should you cultivate? What is deformed in your nature you need to root out? Know the power of the resurrection. Relatedly, Jesus doesn't do away with suffering for us in this life-remember the nail marks in His Sacred Hands and pierced side (Jn.20:27 )? We can neither medicate nor exterminate suffering from life, so Jesus Himself, rather, transforms His own suffering by the Resurrection, to literally, viscerally show us that we can use suffering for good. St Paul says: "I take joy in my sufferings, for I fill up what was lacking Christ's suffering for the sake of the Church" (Gal 1:24). How can you use your suffering to help Jesus redeem the world?

Some people today deny the bodily Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. St Paul says pointedly: "If Christ did not raise form the dead our faith would be in vain". The Bible and 2,000 years of Christ's Church make clear the central importance of believing in His Bodily resurrection! This shows that He overcame sin, corruption, the power of death and Hell and Satan-and we can do the same if we are united to and with Him! Christ's own resurrection is the model of our resurrection from sin and bodily death. Are you preparing now and making yourself worthy of Him and all this?

The Bible passage from Hosea above refers to the Israelites in the time of great affliction (700's BC), and points to hope- that a Savior will come to save them. But, notice: the prophet Hosea speaks in collective terms-"revive us," and he also in speaks of present tense of experiencing new life. The Resurrection of Jesus 2,000 years ago affects us now. Do you know the Lord's Resurrection power? Like yeast in a batch of dough, Jesus can transform our bodies and souls into new life. Are you opening up to Him?

"Knowing" in the Pauline and biblical sense means, not only a theoretical-conceptual knowledge (which we need), but also an intuitional, gritty and real "tasting-experience" of a mystery or reality. St. Paul packs a powerful punch in the following passage about experiencing God and Divine Indwelling: "That Christ may dwell in you (and) you may be able to comprehend the height, length and breath of Christ, which surpasses all knowledge that you may be filled with the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:17-19). The Psalmist says it this way: "O taste and see the goodness of the Lord" (Ps. 34:8).

Are you "tasting, seeing, knowing" how the Lord is good thru His Resurrection power today? Easter is a Sacred Event, a time, a Season--a way of life-- to celebrate the Lord's Resurrection from the dead, and to integrate this Bliss into our hearts and world. Our hearts: "And if the Spirit of Him Who raised Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised Jesus up from the dead shall quicken your mortal bodies because of the Spirit in you" (Rm. 8:11). The dynameis-power (God's "quickening glory" which raised Jesus--cf. Rm. 4:25) dwelling within us can change our hearts of pride, envy and lust, if we, like the sapling trees in our world, desire and drink in God-given Spring rains for sustenance and strength. Are you so "spiritually thirsty" as to pray, every day? Jesus says: "The water I will give shall become within him a fountain of water, springing up to life everlasting" (Jn 4:14). Imbibing means thriving on Jesus' Resurrection power especially thru meditation and Mass: wherein He becomes a living Reality within us, not just outside. So, unlock the doors of paralyzed perception and let Him within, for He says: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any one let Me in, I will come and sup with him" (Rev. 3:20). Once again: we can either think and talk about divine realities, or experience and embrace them.

Our thoughts and thinking: Recently I met and greeted someone, on a beautiful, sunny day, and he responded that it was supposed to rain on an upcoming day. We often postpone the present moment. Later that day I saw a man who was a drug addict (we met previously at a treatment center), and he immediately said, upon seeing me, as if like an angel, something like: God's indelible image within, can never be removed by sin." This man was manifesting a Resurrection thought: nothing can keep Christ inside the tomb-in Jerusalem or within his own soul. St Paul says: "Let this mind be in you which was in Jesus Christ" (Phil. 2:5). How can you allow the Lord Jesus' Resurrection power transform your thoughts thru Christ-centered disciplined thinking?

Eucharistic Jesus: A pilgrim once said to this Chaplain: one of the biggest revolutions of the planet was the invention of the internal combustion engine. Previously, outside force--men or mules--laboriously turned wheels of carts or boats to propel them. But then power came from sparked, accelerating pistons and fire within engines, combusting energy to empower cars and civilizations. Key: Energy within propelling without. Likewise, first came the Outside Law of stone on tablets, and then came Spiritual Revolution of the Lord Jesus into our Hearts. At the Emmaus Meal, the Resurrected Jesus gave Himself interiorly to the disciples: "He took bread and blessed it, and gave it to them.

Their eyes were opened and they knew Him" (Lk. 24:30-31). Can the same be said about us, and the Lord Jesus' Resurrection and Eucharistic power awakening, combusting and thrusting us by His Divine Energy into New life? Recently a man came to the Grotto, and, after exchanging greetings, he flatly said to me: "I want Communion." I was stymied by his stark language. Post facto translation: I'm tired separation from God, ideas-without-realities. After I heard his confession and of his desire for Jesus within, we went into Church and then Christ went into him-the Eucharistic Crucified and Risen One, Who promises: "He who eats My Flesh and Drinks My Blood will abide in Me and I in him" (Jn. 6:56). The disciple "knew the power of the resurrection," showing forth serene smiles of thankfulness afterwards- a lightness of being. Despite his previous dramas in life he revived the "spiritual sonar " within his soul to seek the Savior. Will you? Let's pray and fast for "fallen away" Catholics to seek the savior like this guy! -and realize the power of the resurrection.

Regarding the World's transformation, St. Paul writes: "All creation is groaning for the glory of God" .(Rm 8:22). "And when all things shall be subdued unto Him (God the Father), then the Son also Himself, subject unto Him (the Father), will put all things under Him, that God may be all in all" (I Cor. 15:28). That means: God's power not only transforms us but also His creation; God's grace changes us and the world, not only from without, but also within ("God all in all"). So, Christ's Resurrection power is both a heartfelt commingling and cosmic phenomenon. We see now, especially in our Mary-land world, a created beauty flourishing in springing-splendor. Jesus counsels us worry-warts to learn from a resurrecting-creation: "Behold the birds of the air ...your Heavenly Father feeds them.

Consider the lilies of the field. (Mt. 6:28,30). Consider and commingle with God's awakening world, whereby, like Gerard Manley Hopkins, Irish Jesuit poet, we may experience: "The world is charged with the grandeur of God/ It shines forth like shining from shook foil." God is filling, re-fueling His creation with His glory, triumphing over death and winter: ''O all ye things that spring up in the earth, bless the Lord; ye fountains, ye rivers praise and exult Him" (Dan. 3:76-77). Why does he write:?: "The Most High God has wrought signs and wonders toward me. It seemed good for me therefore to publish." (3:98)..Are you witnessing His goodness and resurrection power to others?

We need Resurrection-power today especially in: Our Church, family and nation. May you bear His presence and have a blessed and joyous Easter!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi