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Traces Magazine
The international magazine of the lay movement Communion and Liberation.

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THE EVIDENCE OF THE RESURRECTION

What will convince the world about Jesus is the way we love one another. A capacity to love that would be impossible if Jesus had not conquered death.

World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto. (Photo Credit: J Trujillo/San Antonio Express/ZUMA Press)

"What does it mean to say that Christ rose from the dead?" I was asked this question once in the middle of a cemetery. "What part don't you understand?," I asked the young man who asked me. "Do you know what dead means? If you don't, I urge you to take a look around."

I pointed toward a grave marked "James N." "Take old James over here," I said. "He used to be interested in many things. He wanted many things. He was also worried about and afraid of many things. But now his body doesn't show signs of caring about anything. Nothing interests, nothing bothers, nothing scares, nothing moves his body, not even a word from someone he once passionately loved. That condition is called dead.

The same body that had died was now alive with an intensity that it couldn't reach before.
"The man Jesus suffered the same fate as Jimmy here. He really and truly died. That's one part of the claim. The other part is that the body of Jesus, so to speak, recovered from that condition. In fact, not only did His body react as it did before His death (He even ate with his friends!), but it behaved in ways that were not possible before. His body was living a new kind of life. It was as if His body obeyed perfectly His will, His mind, His soul, His `heart.' Still, it was a human body; the same body that had died was now alive with an intensity that it couldn't reach before. For example, it could not be afflicted by death again. Therefore, His body is still alive today." I still remember his face when he looked at me, saying, "If this is true, then everything changes..." Indeed.

And then he asked another question, a beautiful question, a question that comes from being created in the image and likeness of God, the question that reveals the dignity of each human being, the question that reveals and protects our evidences, the question whose acceptance distinguishes the Christian claim from any other religious claim: "Where is the evidence? Where is the evidence that this is true?"

Of course, I could not resist saying immediately, "I grant you that, as we look around us, the evidence seems to indicate that death cannot be overcome, and, moreover, if Jimmy here or any of the others begin to show interest in our presence I assure you I'm out of here faster than they could overcome their condition!"

I still remember his face when he looked at me, saying, ‘If this is true, then everything changes...’
What is the evidence of the Resurrection of Christ? My friend himself pointed to it: "If this is true, everything changes:" That is the evidence: change, a change that cannot be attributed to anything in the world, a change that makes us capable of what we are now absolutely, structurally incapable of doing. Jesus Himself said it on the night before He died. What will convince the world about Him is the way we love one another. A capacity to love, a way of loving that would be impossible if Jesus had not conquered death, that is the evidence of the Resurrection.

Fr. Luigi Giussani points to this evidence in his discussion about Baptism, the sacrament through which we begin to participate in Christ's risen life. "The baptized person is different from the non-baptized." He or she has a different "I;" a new identity, one that allows a fulfillment of human desires that is simply otherwise totally impossible.

Fr. Giussani mentions two examples: the indissolubility of marriage, and virginity. Both reveal a love that is impossible if Christ had not risen from the dead. The "difference" between the baptized and non-baptized consists in a new "I" that is "so strong, so totally sustained by a divine force, that it is finally able to realize even that which, humanly speaking, the nature of the 'I' demands, but it is not capable of doing."

Forgiveness is an example; a love that forgives (cf, Una presenza che cambia) is evidence of Christ's Resurrection. That is why Baptism was first liturgically celebrated on Easter. If Christ had not risen from the dead, there could be no Baptism. The purpose of our companionship, our friendship, our Movement—Communion & Liberation—is the purpose of the Church, which is "to be the place where Baptism acts." That is why the victory of Christ is the Christian people. That is the evidence.

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March 24, 2005

MONSIGNOR LORENZO ALBACETE is National Director of the ecclesial movement Communion & Liberation. He is a columnist for the New York Times and the Italian weekly Tempi, and has written for The New Yorker and many other publications. He is the spiritual advisor for Godspy.

This article originally appeared in the February 2005 issue of Traces magazine. Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2005, Traces. All rights reserved.

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READER COMMENTS
04.12.05   A.J.Matera says:
To answer your question, on an individual level we have the saints-- official and not, who give up their lives as an act of sacrificial love. They are convinced of the reality of the resurrection, and respond accordingly. This sort of witness is how the resurrection has been transmitted through the centuries, to this day. When people who are not Christians sacrifice their lives for the other, they're responding to the Holy Spirit, although they may not know it. On a cosmic level, the Church teaches that Christ's Passion and resurrection unleashed the grace that has been remaking the world. While it may seem that the world overall has not changed, I think a good case can be made that it has. A Christian world can still fall into evil, as it has in recent centuries (and when it does it is more culpable). However, the persistence of the incarnation made it possible for humanity to be raised again each time. The Church's mission works on both levels, and is the tangible evidence of Christ's resurrection today.

04.10.05   melanjolly says:
Does this article mean to say that, for example, love and forgiveness would be impossible if Christ had not risen from the dead? Or a specific kind of love and forgiveness? Or what? The article interested me because I am myself unable to say exactly what it means, what difference in makes in the world, that Christ conquered death. One looks around and sees death, suffering, injustice and so forth -- in short, a world much like the world before the Resurrection.So what concrete difference did it make? It seems that the author did indeed have some insight into the question, but did not succeed in communicating it, at least to me -- which may well be my fault. Can anyone clarify?

03.25.05   Godspy says:
What will convince the world about Jesus is the way we love one another. A capacity to love that would be impossible if Jesus had not conquered death.

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