Truly risen

By 
  • April 17, 2007
The documentary Lost Tomb of Jesus, for all its trumpery, posed a question that is as relevant this Easter as it was two millennia ago: Did Jesus rise from the dead? Even if the answer is self-evident to Christians, it does no harm to be able to explain it to the rest of the world in which we live.
More importantly, to live truly Christian lives, we need to see the risen Christ evident in our daily existence.

For Mary Magdalene and the Apostles, the answer was clear. They either witnessed the empty tomb themselves, or saw the risen Christ in the flesh. Even for those a step or two removed from the amazing incident in Jerusalem, there were signs aplenty, such as the encounter on the road to Emmaus.

Each of us must encounter the risen Christ in our own way if we are to go beyond simply a rational acceptance of church teaching to build a personal relationship with God. In some way we must go through our own Passion, crucifixion and descent to the dead, to recognize the gaze of the risen Jesus. “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age,” Jesus told His disciples in Matthew’s Gospel. And, indeed, He is, in response to prayers, in the sacramental life of our church, and in even in our human relationships.

Then, in recognizing the risen Christ in our own lives, we begin to see Him in others. And be Christ to others. This can, and should, be the gift of Christians to the world.

It has been rarely more necessary than now, in a world in which radically diverse belief systems and lifestyles are thrown together through the merciless growth of electronic communications and global immigration. The more different we are from each other, the greater need that we strive to present Christ, through our own actions, to strangers.

In this simple principle, there is a lesson for Canadian society during our ongoing debate about the place of immigrants and refugees from Third World countries — places where cultures, religions, economics and social relations are so very different from our own. The recent debate in Quebec over reasonable accommodation with newcomers reveals how a valuable discussion over objective limits can quickly turn ugly when run through the meat-grinder of an election campaign. As Quebec’s three main parties were running neck-and-neck just prior to election day, each party’s leader played to the baser fears of Quebeckers about foreigners by insisting that Muslim women who wear face veils (niqab) must lift them when they vote. The fact that the few Muslim women who wear niqabs already lift them for such matters was swept aside in the hysteria.

Christ calls on us to look beyond the superficial matters of dress and skin colour to see His own face in the eyes of the strangers in our midst. And thus encounter the Resurrection.

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