"If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain" (1Cor 15:14)
Do you live the Resurrection of Jesus each day? This isn't a spiritual exercise but a practical reality! Living the Resurrection each day will bring you and your family peace and joy! Does it sound too good to be true? If the Mercy of God is too good to be true then maybe it is, but I know that we can rest secure in the Heavenly Fathers arms through the merits of Jesus Christ.
Living the Resurrection each day begins with forgiving ourselves. Many times when we suspect that we aren't "doing what we ought" we punish ourselves with our thoughts. My advice is to be patient and let God be your judge! Bring your struggles to the sacrament of Reconciliation. I know the initial reaction of suspicion, trust me I'm not advertising! There is a reason why St. Pope John Paul II went to Reconciliation weekly. JPII went to reconciliation weekly because he had an incredible amount of responsibility, we too have a lot of responsibilities that wear on us and sometimes we make mistakes and need to talk to Jesus through His sacramental minister the Priest who not only listens but helps us to grow.
The Catechism says in paragraph 651 that the Resurrection is the confirmation of Jesus' work and teachings here on this earth. It re-affirms his authority as the Messiah, as the Son of God. If not for anything else, the Resurrection gives us reason to hope in Jesus and the Mercy he brings. In the same way Jesus affirmed His authority in Mark Chapter two, the healing of the paralytic. If you remember, Jesus is talking to the scribes who mentally criticize Him for forgiving the sins of a paralytic who was lowered through the roof by his friends. Jesus then says, "which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'rise pick up your mat and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth..." and Jesus tells the man to pick up his mat and go home. In the same way Jesus' entire ministry, His claim of authority rests squarely on his bodily Resurrection!
To doubt the Resurrection is to call into question Jesus' very authority as a teacher. Though this isn't an exhaustive examination we have to ask ourselves. Why would so many of his followers, those of his inner disciples and those for whom Jesus never personally conversed though may have witnessed Him or His life who died gruesome deaths for him and what they truly witnessed. Come to think of it every week many, revolutionaries even, were crucified like Jesus, it was as commonplace as the manger and a stable. Crucifixion ensured visitors and citizens were aware of the penalties for the crimes committed by those crucified in the Roman Empire. Just as when Jesus' placard read "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" and the Pharisees objection that it should say "He claimed to be the king of the Jews."
In the same way when we think of the tomb of Jesus we should remember that a Roman guard is between four and six professional soldiers, that the rock placed in front of the tomb was between two and three tons, and finally that the seal placed on the tomb was a rope strung across with a wax seal which if broken warranted the death penalty of the perpetrator if not the guard. I doubt a few women and some frightened fishermen and tax collectors who were afraid of being caught or found could have made much of a stand. In fact it's surprising that some of the disciples raced to the tomb on the day of the Resurrection at all, considering their fears of being caught as a disciple of Jesus.
In order to live the Resurrection we must trust in Jesus, trust in the Gospel, trust in His Resurrection. If we can trust in the Gospel if we can trust in Jesus and what He says we can trust in His mercy. If we can trust in His great mercy we can also practice the virtue of Joy. The virtue of Joy isn't about always being happy, again happiness is an emotion, and emotions are fleeting.
The true virtue of Joy is the struggle put forth to remain joyful even when it may be a challenge. We make the active choice to be joyful because we realize that we walk with Christ wherever we go, and meet Christ in everyone we meet. We choose joy because we know, despite our worst failures, we are identified by God's mercy not our mistakes. Living in Joy is the call of the Christian, there are enough sourpusses in Church to make gallons and gallons of pickle juice! As St. Therese of Avila says, "Lord, save us from our sour-faced saints."
Why is true joy or the virtue of joy so important? Joy is important because from it our Christian generosity flows! Without this joy we have the lackluster job of required philanthropy, the lackluster job of 'going to Mass', the lackluster job of forcing ourselves to say words of a prayer by ourselves as a shy and private affair; almost as an embarrassment. We slog our children off to Church functions hoping they glean what they need to live a 'faithful' life or simply to be with friends.
These things that are done out of obligation rather than true Christian joy are the leprosy of our Church, because truly if we had joy we wouldn't have an obligation, the minimal requirements would instead be forgotten and we would worship ready to help, ready to be there for each-other! We would be eager to encounter God in the mundane and to go above and beyond what the wisdom of the Church has defined as the norms of public worship and education.
Joy should be inflamed at the center of your heart and if it isn't begin the struggle today! Ask Jesus in your own words for this blessing and begin the struggle by taking each small moment into your hands and shaping it into a moment with Jesus. At work? Good, talk to Jesus mentally with short little sentences every now and then. About to be hard on yourself, take a deep breath and ask Jesus to do the judging and while He's at it to help you with whatever is going wrong. Out of the joy that Jesus has freed us from the bondage of sin be happy to meet someone new in the supermarket, or be happy to talk to someone you've known a while. This all begins by asking Jesus for the supernatural grace of joy, you can do it! I believe in you!
If nothing else just remember, from true joy flows true generosity! Go ahead, live the Resurrection!!!
Husband & father of four, graduate from Quincy University and currently a grad student at Franciscan University. Director of Faith Formation & Youth Ministry for All Saints Parish since 2011.