If there is one mystery that eludes our understanding and leaves us unsettled, it is the mystery of death.
It is something that every human being will experience, and while we intellectually know death will occur, what awaits us on the other side — if we believe there is an “other” side — is something human beings have pondered since the beginning.
Whether or not we believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead will shape the way we live here and now.
If we have no belief, or, if we have belief but also believe that we cannot know about the “other” side, then the way in which we approach our lives will change depending on our circumstances.
This also may be said for those who do believe, but don’t actively put the daily pursuit of God’s will at the center of their lives.
Conversely, if we have a firm belief and faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, no matter what our lot in life is, we know that it is temporary.
Lack of belief will cause one’s approach to life to be in a constant state of flux, whereas belief will give us a firm steadiness, regardless of trials and tribulations we may have to endure.
Belief in this sense will either humble us and lead to repentance or lift our spirit out of despair — trusting that the God who created us desires nothing less than to “wipe every tear from our eyes” and “make all things new” for all eternity (Rev. 21).
Belief in the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the way in which humanity enters into the “new creation (2 Cor. 5:17)” where we begin to see life differently. We see our world, our American society, our families, our marriage, our lives, our suffering, our fear, our anxiety — everything — in a different way.
Such belief is not contrary to reason; rather, it affirms reason and lifts it to new heights where we are able to see the deeper truths of life as they actually are.
St. Augustine says, “Believe in order that you may understand.”
The difficulty with belief is that it makes a claim on us. We need to be willing to put our own egos aside and trust that God genuinely loves us and knows what is best for us (“unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” — John 12:24). This is easier said than done as our current culture seems to promote an unhealthy sense of self-reliance and inauthentic freedom.
Having a deep and unwavering trust in God to the point of making changes in our lives and lifestyles is rare in the 21st century. We often desire to adjust our understanding of God to accommodate our lifestyle rather than adjust our lifestyle to accommodate God.
Perhaps today we can begin anew in our belief in the Resurrection of Christ and allow that faith to inform and shape our lives in preparation for the life that follows.
The Rev. Chris Downey is pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Copperas Cove.