Can We Believe and Achieve the Resurrection?
by Fr. Shay Cullen
Christians have celebrated the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, we have recalled the dramatic events in that life of one who brought into the world the unconditional, self- sacrificing love that makes us so human and so divine. When we love others like the Good Samaritan, generous, self-giving to a stranger, to a victim, the way Jesus himself did, risking all for the dignity and the rights of others, we can hope for eternal life.
Perhaps we don’t have to risk all as he did confronting the corruption and the hypocrisy of the elite and the religious authorities, who executed him, but by living a life for others and not ourselves as he taught. If we can, then perhaps evolve to a higher spiritual level and experience our own resurrection.
We may reach that level of goodness and spiritual maturity that will enable us to cross successfully to the life of eternal goodness beyond the grave and as Jesus did and we could overcome death and live forever. That is the dream of all people of faith; to unite with the God of eternal love and gain eternity. Death that ends in nothingness is difficult to accept and contemplate but the faith and belief in life hereafter and in the Resurrection is what gives us hope and the strength to live an unselfish life.
But let’s not make seeking eternity the reason for doing good, we can become selfish, seeking our own personal happiness in eternity when we ought to help others without seeking any reward. What will be will be. If we thought about it getting eternity for our selves too much, it can be self-defeating.
It’s not such a great leap of faith to believe in the resurrection, millions do. Believing is one thing but achieving it is another. Therein is the real challenge to live a worthy and noble life of virtue and service for others. Jesus set a high standard and we got to share and bear to achieve that standard. Many true Christians quietly follow the example of Jesus and share humbly their worldly goods without seeking reward and praise and glorification. They are in solidarity with the poor, and promote justice and love in the world and quietly help others. They are on the road to eternal life.
In this world there are “resurrections” too. I have seen them. When the abused and brutalized children find safety and protection, love, care inspiration and affirmation, they can rise from the depths of despair and hopelessness and live again. I witness this daily as the victims of sexual abuse, brutality and neglect, those long suffering unjust incarceration in filthy rat infested jails are freed and given support and respect, they rise from the dead as it were. Spiritual death is the result of the deprivation of love and friendship.
Jessica was 14, a beautiful looking child, although disabled, she was trying her best to make a place for herself in this world. She went to school and did her best to endure the teases and jeers.
She is a child that suffered from polio and had a disability with walking and speech and was vulnerable and defenseless when she was set upon by the rapists and abusers. As a polio victim for which there was no help whatsoever, she was neglected, and left as a freak by her family and could not go to school for fear of being jeered by the other children. She had a normal intelligence but was unable to grow and develop. When she was first abused by a gang of rapists, she became like a living dead. She was unable to speak, to look at anyone, and she hardly ate. She was a living skeleton, malnourished and had no will to live. She was dead, one could say.
When she was found by Preda social workers she asked for help and was given refuge and shelter at the Preda Girls’ Home. The gang rape was the most traumatic thing in her life and her parents ignored it. They feared retaliation from the families of the boys who were rich and powerful.
Jessica recounted all to the therapists and found the love and attention and care she longed for in the family of the Girls’ home and began to awake from the dead. Soon she was smiling, joining the play and going to school. She was strong enough to file criminal charges against her abusers and never looked back. Today she is a healthy happy child resurrected and living again.
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