What’s the relevance of resurrection during the coronavirus pandemic?

The Resurrection of the Lord

Acts 10:34A, 37-43

Peter proceeded to speak and said: “You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Colossians 3:1-4

Brothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.

John 20:1-9

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

And so, it’s Easter Sunday. Usually the baptismal candidates of my RCIA should have received baptism at the Easter Vigil on Saturday. Not this year due to the coronavirus pandemic

Usually after celebrating the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, then the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday, and then the Easter Vigil on the Holy Night of Saturday, the Church faithful will gather joyfully and triumphantly today at Sunday Masses across the country to rejoice in the Resurrection of the Lord. Unfortunately, not this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Everything has come to a complete standstill. The world, ever so busy and lively, suddenly has stopped dead in its tracks. As we speak, unemployment in the country skyrockets; stock markets plunge; confirmed cases in the U.S. are soaring to overtaking China and Italy; medical facilities are overwhelmed – we are in uncharted territories of social, health, and financial devastations!

For me, the story in John on the discovery of the empty tomb always brings to mind the contrast between the evangelical (as represented by Peter) and the spiritual (as represented by John, “the beloved disciple”). Church tradition reads this Johannine account metaphorically as a confirmation of God’s special blessing of the spiritually predisposed. Their intimate – and at times mystical – relationship with God somehow enables them to go faster and further in their pursuit of the truth. It’s a fascinating theological insight. But on this Easter Sunday, when hardships and uncertainties are all around, and the world we live in today is almost unrecognizable from the one we knew only a few weeks ago, one is tempted to ask what relevance does theological insight have to our daily life? One may even wonder, out of bewilderment and frustration, what is the relevance of the grand doctrine of resurrection to all the pressing issues that we need to resolve in order to live?

The Catechism answers our grievances above this way: “All truths, even those most inaccessible to human reason, find their justification if Christ by his Resurrection has given the definitive proof of his divine authority, which he had promised. Christ’s Resurrection is the fulfillment of the promises both of the Old Testament and of Jesus himself during his earthly life” (CCC 651-652).

As followers of Christ, we live, praise and worship, pray, and strive to be virtuous and holy. We love one another, rejoice in spite of suffering, and persevere with hope in spite of uncertainties. We live this way because we believe in Christ and follow his teachings. What the Catechism is saying is that all these noble things that we do, and all the sacrifices that we make out of love in our daily life because of our faith in Christ would be just unfounded illusions or false hopes IF his resurrection did not really happen.

What a stunning teaching of the Church! This is how the reasoning goes: Jesus came, died, and is risen and glorified. His resurrection proves that all the promises made by God about him are true, that he truly has conquered all sins and death, and that he is indeed the Messiah the world had been waiting for and is now in need more than ever. As Christians we accept these revealed truths about Christ and live our daily life accordingly. We persist in living this way even during the devastations of the coronavirus. It follows that if resurrection is not true, then the whole foundation of our faith will come crumbling down. Everything we do – our way of living, our worldview, all the principles of life that we go by – will be totally unfounded. What’s the relevance of the grand doctrine of resurrection when we are up to our eyeballs in deep trouble because of the coronavirus? I think the Catechism has answered our question very well.

Posted: April 12, 2020

Edmond Lo

As a Catholic speaker, writer and RCIA Catechist, Edmond is very active in promoting and defending the Catholic faith. He has a MBA, a CPA-CMA, and a MTS (Master of Theological Studies) from U.T., St. Augustine's Seminary. Having worked many years as the CFO of a non-profit organization, he retired at 55 to follow his special vocation of evangelization. The activities he conducts include the CMCC Bible Study Program, the Catechism Revisited Program, the FLL Spiritual Formation Program, Living in the Holy Tradition, RCIA, family groups and retreats, etc. Edmond is a member of the FLL Core Team. He writes Sunday Mass reflections regularly for the weekly FLL NewSpiration. His personal blog: http://elodocuments.blogspot.com/

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