Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Is the Resurrection Genuine?

"Is the Resurrection of Jesus for real?  I want to believe, help me believe." These are the words that begin an article in the Bible & Life magazine. The priest writing the article says, sorry but there is no answer that  one is able to 'grasp' with their hands. He will present some points to ponder on the  missing body in the tomb.

Hypothesis #1:  The disciples stole the body and buried it in another place. The possibility of this happening he says is zero. No one is willing to die for a lie. The apostles after the Resurrection went around preaching about the Resurrection and  became martyrs.

Hypothesis #2: The enemies of Jesus took the body which also makes no sense. If that was the case when the  apostles went around preaching about the Resurrection they would  have shown the body. His friends or enemies did not have a chance to move the body because it was no longer in the tomb.

Does this help to persuade? he asks. There is the shaking of the head, the expected response. Do we want to say it is a metaphor? There is nothing with which we can compare it to in our  world of experience. If you ask him what is the reason for the belief he responds that it is the change in the apostles. Men who were dim-witted, slow to understand and cowards, how in the world did they change into peerless heroes, afraid of nothing?  How was it that those who scattered every which way at the crucifixion were able to become so firmly united? How was the brother of Jesus, who thought Jesus was out of his head, become the leader of the Church in Jerusalem. How was it that  Paul and the early Christians were able to withstand the horrible death incurred at the hands of the Roman authorities with such peace? Where did that passion  and courage come from? If Jesus had just disappeared and deserted the community would that early community have continued to exist with the persecution that they faced? This enormous change in the  members is what we call the Resurrection experience.

Those of you who are still nodding your head he wants to introduce you to a person who faced death with great peace--Stephen. He is a prime example of an  Easter person. The death of Stephen is, besides the death of Jesus, the only one that shows the death of a just one. They are the same ones who killed our Lord and before Stephen died he cried out in a loud voice: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." Where did this strength and transcendence come from?

What seems contradictory in the Scriptures about the Resurrection--the different retelling of the story--only leads to showing the trustworthiness of what happened; there was no attempt to harmonize the different accounts, and the very idea that the women were the first witnesses (contrary to what the  Jewish tradition would consider a reliable witness) gives credibility to the oral accounts that  were later written down in our Scripture. The accounts are not about a few individuals but of many which adds a great deal to the way we look upon the Resurrection.
We do not have any incontrovertible proofs of the Resurrection, but  there are good reasons for the reliability of what is recounted in the Scriptures. This is not easily denied.

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