Saturday, June 2, 2012

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity: "The Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son"

Deuteronomy 4, 32-34, 39-40; Psalm 33; Romans 8, 14-17; Matthew 28, 16-20
Resurrection: fact or fiction?

The Resurrection of the Lord, the only Son of God the Father, and the coming of the Holy Spirit reveal the Trinity we celebrate today: three persons in one God. Christ taught the Apostles that the Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son" and so we profess this in the Creed. The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus remains the cornerstone of Christian faith and life for by his Resurrection Christ's divinity is revealed and all his words and teachings are thereby guaranteed as true. The whole edifice of Christian faith, all that we believe about God fully revealed in Jesus Christ, stands or falls on the cornerstone of Christ's Resurrection.

It is fashionable in the literary and academic world today to "doubt" the Resurrection of the Lord, to revise and rephrase tradition, to reinterpet scripture in order to call the real bodily Resurrection into question. Knowing that men would call the truth into doubt, St. Paul wrote: "If Christ has not risen, your faith is in vain."

Some Christians propose the Resurrection was experienced only in the faith or credulity of the Apostles or first Christians, something they simply made up out of thin air. It is possible today to hear even Christian leaders say; "If they found the bones of Jesus, it would not shake my faith." It is the lesson of the Ascension of the Lord in scripture and the celebration of the liturgy of the Church that this is completely out of the question! We are left with the testimony of Scripture, and there we find record in several places that the Apostles doubted Christ's Resurrection. "Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshipped him; but some doubted." (Mt 28; 16-17) Are we to believe that the Evangelists recorded the doubt of some of their number even while creating a fiction of their own imagination? The liar is the first to recognize the stupidity of giving evidence contradicitng his own falsehood!

"Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples are still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were seeing a ghost. 'In their joy they were still disbelieving and still wondering.' (Lk 24:38-41) Thomas will also experience the test of doubt and St. Matthew relates that during the risen Lord's last appearance in Galilee 'some doubted.' (Cf. Jn 20:24-27; Mt 28:17) Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles' faith (or credulity) will not hold up. On the contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, from their direct experience of the risen Jesus." (CCC 644)

We too experience doubts as part of our weak human condition. But we also directly experience the Lord Jesus in the proclamation of the Word and in his Body and Blood in the Eucharist. Christ Himself, then, by these his works which give the grace of faith strengthens us to do the humanly impossible and declare with supernatural joy: "Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia."
I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

(Publish with permission.)

(For further reading on today's Gospel see also these paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 2, 80, 189, 232, 849, 1122, 1223, 1276, 2156, 2743.)

(Photo by author: Holy Spirit window at Bernini's Altar of the Chair of St. Peter, Saint Peter's Basilica, Roma, Italia.)

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