…Easter and the Meaning of the Resurrection…
(from a April 4, 1976 conference)

One of the great disappointments that cloud the joyful expectations of a happy child as it grows older is the realization, acquired through its own experience, that none of the good things in this life are at all permanent.  Various treasured possessions wear out or lose their attraction, and even the most valuable possessions, such as the love and care received from other people, prove unreliable as time goes on.  We find that even the people we most trust and rely on have in fact got their faults . . . and, if we do not learn it early in life, we certainly learn later on that we cannot even trust ourselves to do right and to have pure motives in all we do.

At the present time the world is in a state of great unrest and insecurity, and this troubled, violent climate has its repercussions on all of us.  Things we thought were permanent have been swept away.  Values we thought all men accepted have been discarded.  Organizations which we saw as impregnable have fallen down, and we see violence and greed and permissiveness and immorality everywhere.

It is not at all difficult for us to become depressed at the state of affairs in the world, or even in the Church, but if there is one thing a faithful Christian must never do, it is to lose hope.  In fact whatever happens to us in this world, and whatever reasons there are for sorrow and distress, it is the privilege and duty of Christians to be full of joy and expectancy.  It is easy to say this, of course, but it is not so easy to put it into practice.  We shall put it into practice to the extent that we have real faith, faith that fills every pore within us. . .

There was a time when God in Person entered this world as a Man, and it was God Himself Who walked the roads of Palestine and showed Himself to men.  God Who had created all things, Who ruled all things, Who held all things in His hand, was among us as a Man.  If ever human affairs might have been expected to take a turn for the better, it was then.  If ever we should have expected a great world leader to have taken over the direction of human affairs and brought everything to peace and order and security, it was then.  We can certainly never again expect to have such a Man on earth living a normal human life among us.

And yet we know what happened.  And we know it was by God’s foreknowledge and will that it happened.  We are not stunned by the sight of the Cross, but we ought to be:  God Himself, not only giving up the security His power afforded Him, but giving up His life; giving up His life not in a glorious and wonderful manifestation of power and victory, but in apparent failure, calling out as if God had forsaken Him.

It was when things were at their lowest ebb on earth, when the Savior of mankind was destroyed by wickedness, when the hope of the nations died unsuccessful, it was at that moment that the splendor of the Easter Light arose.
The darker things are, the more insecure things are, the more hopeless things are, so much the brighter is the appearance of Our Risen Lord.  But He is visible only to faith.  People think that they have faith because they assert that the statements of the Creed are true, or because they defend the truth of the teachings of the Church.  People think they have faith because they attack heresy or denounce violations of the moral law.  But these things are no proof whatever that a man has faith. . .

In a gloomy world, and faced with all the oppressing forces around us, it ought to be unthinkable for us to be downcast.  God came among us in human form and in this way linked Himself intimately with us all.  God has become a member of the human race, and the entire human race is one, and God, the Firstborn of all creation in Jesus, has risen from destruction and death and carried human nature with Him irrevocably.  Not only should we not be dismayed by the troubles and distresses around us, but, provided that we have done what we reasonably can to make things right, we should be glad to let the light of our joyful and expectant faith shine out all the more brightly because of the darkness around us.
 When things go wrong, remember that Jesus has risen, that He is no longer subjecting Himself to human weakness, and that He is with you, that He is living in you.  No darkness can overcome the Light of the world.  We must not let any darkness cloud our faith.  It is not a question only of holding on to the truth of the resurrection; it is a question of living it in the depths of our hearts.  Do you believe that the life of Christ is within you, vitalizing you?  If not, you have not got faith.  Do you believe that Jesus is Lord of all creation?  If not, you have not got faith.  And what does it mean, being Lord of all creation?  It means that He controls all created things.  He is Lord of persons and of things.  He is Lord of events and of thoughts and of feelings and of experience.  Nothing escapes His control.  Yes, there is the mystery of free will by which men disobey God, but they do not in any way whatsoever escape His control in doing so.  God’s providence is all embracing and all controlling.  We are safe. . .

Jesus is God with us.  It is not just a case of God coming to be with us and able to go away again as easily as He came.  The only way God could stop being with us if He wanted to would be by Jesus no longer being God and Man.  As long as Christ lives, God cannot help being with us.  This should fill us with confidence.  God has bound Himself to be with us.  He is tied to us by the hypostatic union, by the union of God and Man in the one Divine Person of the Son of God.

Our faith in the resurrection includes the knowledge that this glorious, risen, Holy Spirit-radiating-Christ is God with us.  That “with us” is forever.  We cannot be separated from the love of God, which is in our risen Lord, unless we freely choose to be separated from it.  Do we go around timid and afraid when we have such an Advocate in heaven?  And heaven is within us.

Our Christian faith gives us a religion of the Cross, but it is a faith entirely dominated by the resurrection of Our Lord.  It is a faith not in a past event that took Our Lord to heaven, but a faith in the risen Christ living His transformed life within us and increasing that life in us through every cross of ours, until it finally consumes us in love and joy and glory, as the constant presence of our risen Lord is revealed to our eyes and hearts and minds and souls when He comes to take us home.

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