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Catholic Thoughts: Christ is risen…We are rising

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Jeanne HuntHow are you doing with resurrection? I not talking about the big “R” Easter Resurrection. I am talking about the everyday, personal resurrection. By this I mean those small, personal moments when we choose something more than defeat, failure, death.

Think about people who are facing hopeless situations, defeat, and sure failure. There is Molly, the young mother, whose beautiful, firstborn daughter is still struggling to learn to read in the first grade and so may not move forward with her friends to second grade. Then there is Jim, the guy with the four little boys, who lost his job. He was told they were consolidating the IT department. There are Sarah and Chet who discovered an empty baggie in their son’s desk with remnants of marijuana in it. Finally, I think of Brian, who had a near-fatal heart attack at the age of 37. 

In this Easter season, we believers have cause to connect the big “R” with the little ones. A banner in a church I visited said, “Christ is risen…we are rising.” It seems that resurrection is a chain reaction. Jesus Christ made it possible for us to rise above our hopeless situations and achieve personal victory. The tough part is that we must believe in something finer, something beyond what we know, in order to come to such victory. An elderly, holy priest said to me, “Every morning, getting out of bed is a personal resurrection.” He is nearly blind and is crippled with arthritis. He is no longer the man he used to be — on the outside. Yet, the inner man is filled with divine determination to get up and get going. His reference to his personal resurrection each morning helped me to start to see all the hopeless, human moments when new beginnings arise from the ashes of our ruin. Can we believe that something is stirring within us because of Jesus’ death and resurrection?

The secret is allowing the message of Easter to last beyond a church service on a spring Sunday. What began on that first Easter continues in our lives. We are challenged to believe that through Jesus Christ we have power over death, destruction, bad news, failing grades, addiction, broken hearts … and on and on. That power is rooted in God’s decision to take hold of our pitiful circumstances and do for us what He did for His Son. And that, my fellow believers, takes a mighty leap of faith on our part. Yet, I have seen it happen too many times not to conclude that it is very real. If we are who we say we are, disciples of the risen Jesus, then we must take Him at His word: “Everything is possible to one who has faith” (Mark 9:23). Do we dare to believe that dreams and even miracles can come to us?

What is so odd about personal resurrection is that God wants us to ask for His help and then presume it will happen. Too many times, we limit God by our expectations. We simply get what we expect. If we want a small God who never answers our prayers, God obliges. On the other hand, when we go to Him full of hope, mountains start to move.

One more thing is necessary in our personal resurrection events: God expects us to do what we can. While Jesus saves, we must pick up an oar and row for shore: Molly’s daughter will need her parents’ help catching up. Jim must turn over his situation to God and then go out every day to look for work. Chet and Sarah cannot ignore that empty baggie. It is time for them to confront their teenage son and keep a vigilant eye on his friends and activities. Brian will experience his resurrection through faithful adherence to his doctor’s advice and good cardiac rehab.

All of this breeds grace, an Easter grace. Grace is not a thing as many of us may remember from the milk bottles in the Baltimore Catechism. Grace is a verb. It is the relationship with the risen Lord.

Grace is knowing our Lord and walking with Him through the deep valleys and the mountains of our journey. When we meet Him heart to heart, something mystical heals and redeems us. Easter was not over when we walked out of church a few weeks ago. It is just beginning.

This Catholic Thoughts column by Jeanne Hunt originally appeared in the May 2015 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.

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