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

by Edmond Lo
The Resurrection of the Lord

Acts 10:34A, 37-43

Colossians 3:1-4

John 20:1-9

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.