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  • Writer's pictureKeith Jiron

The Resurrection: Realizing Christ in Our Own Lives

“If Christ is not raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” (1 Cor 15:14)

empty tomb

Over the centuries, much ink has been spilled on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. There are many different directions which a meditation upon Jesus’ being raised from the dead 2,000 years ago can take, but I would like to focus on what meaning this central event of Christianity holds for us, you and I, today.

As with all the events of Christ’s life, while they are indeed factual and true accounts, they are not merely meant to be seen as some sort of biography. Rather, in a marvelous and powerful way, the mysteries of Christ’s life are to be realized in our own lives.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 521 states,

Christ enables us to live in him all that he himself lived, and he lives it in us. "By his Incarnation, he, the Son of God, has in a certain way united himself with each man." We are called only to become one with him, for he enables us as the members of his Body to share in what he lived for us in his flesh as our model:

We must continue to accomplish in ourselves the stages of Jesus' life and his mysteries and often to beg him to perfect and realize them in us and in his whole Church. . . For it is the plan of the Son of God to make us and the whole Church partake in his mysteries and to extend them to and continue them in us and in his whole Church. This is his plan for fulfilling his mysteries in us.

Upon reading this rich text from the Church’s Catechism, the question that likely presents itself is just how it is that “we are to accomplish in ourselves the stages of Jesus’ life and his mysteries and often beg him to perfect and realize them in us.” How is this possible? How does this work?

I will propose a very simple way to better understand this reality. Consider, perhaps, something that you gave up for Lent. Your Lenten resolution may have entailed not eating sweets, or not drinking coffee, or perhaps you decided to pray a daily rosary, or go to daily Mass. No matter what the sacrifice or offering you sought to make for Lent, it likely involved, let’s call it, a “dying to self,” a dying to your own desires, making a sacrifice which meant battling your own bad habits and selfish inclinations.

Making sacrifices for the sake of the sacrifices themselves, if you think about it, doesn’t really make much sense. Rather, we make sacrifices for some purpose. Let’s consider this in light of the mysteries of Christ. It has been said in many and various ways that without the Cross of Christ, there is no resurrection. Because “Christ enables us to live in him all that he himself lived, and he lives it in us,” when we, with intention, love, and by God’s grace, make acts of love and sacrifice in union with Christ who dwells in us by our Baptism, we can experience glimpses of the resurrection in our own hearts.

Consider the great effort and exercise of the will involved in “dying” to certain bad habits or selfish inclination through the practice of virtue. Virtue is defined as a habitual and firm disposition to do the good. When, through our own effort, we acquire a certain virtue by dying to vice in our lives, it can be a liberating experience, a resurrection, if you will. Once the virtue is acquired, this means that we are able to do a certain good with great ease because of this newly acquired habit or firm disposition. No longer enslaved to the vice, this enables us to live in the freedom of the resurrected Christ who came “so that [we] might have life, and have it to full.” (Jn 10:10)

Life is a gift and a beautiful journey with highs and lows, sometimes filled with suffering and hardship, and sometimes filled with moments of supreme happiness. Living life through the lens of the resurrection of Christ who wants to “accomplish in [us] the stages of [his] life and his mysteries,” we can keep our eyes fixed, come what may, on Jesus Christ who has made us for himself and longs to spend eternity with us. Keeping this eternal perspective, we can unite our suffering with Christ who has transformed the meaning of suffering and death and given us the hope of our own bodily resurrection.

“…For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." The risen Christ lives in the hearts of his faithful while they await that fulfillment. In Christ, Christians "have tasted. . . the powers of the age to come" and their lives are swept up by Christ into the heart of divine life, so that they may "live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." (CCC 655)

May our Easter celebrations be blessed and filled with great hope as we continue to live in the truth of the resurrected Christ who gives us the promise of eternal life.

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