Encountering the risen Lord Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Apr. 05, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Seeing with Jesus' Eyes, by Fr. Don Lange

Cecil DeMille, the famous movie director, was enjoying an overdue vacation at a Maine lake resort.

He was reading a book in a canoe, when he noticed a water beetle crawling up the boat’s side. When the beetle got halfway up, it stuck the talons of its legs to the canoe’s wood and died.

DeMille resumed reading. Three hours later he glanced again at the water beetle. What he saw amazed him. The beetle had dried up and its back began to crack open. First, a moist head, then wings, and finally a tail emerged. Out of apparent death, new life emerged in the form of a magnificent dragonfly.

As the dragonfly dazzled his eyes with its acrobatic flight, Cecil De Mille nudged the dried out beetle shell with his finger. It looked like a tomb.

From Good Friday to Easter

The water beetle’s amazing transformation reminds us of what happened to Jesus on Good Friday when he truly died on the cross and rose from the dead.

Jesus’ body that rose on Easter was different from the body buried on Good Friday. It was not a resuscitated body, restored to its original life like that of Lazarus or Jairus’ daughter. It was a risen glorified body.

On Good Friday, the apostles’ dream of an earthly kingdom was shattered when Jesus was crucified and buried. Fearing for their lives, his confused apostles hid.

On Easter morning Mary Magdalen visited Jesus’ tomb and saw that the stone had been rolled away. She thought Jesus’ body had been stolen and ran to tell the apostles. Peter and John came and entered the empty tomb. They saw the burial cloths.

In no. 657 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it says, “The empty tomb and linen cloths lying there signify in themselves that by God’s power, Christ’s body had escaped the bonds of death and corruption. They prepared the disciples to encounter the risen Lord.”

Union through Baptism

When the apostles encountered the risen Lord, they were transformed from frightened, confused followers into courageous Christian witnesses. All except John were martyrs.

The Resurrection is the cornerstone of our faith. In First Corinthians 15:14 it says, “If Christ has not been raised from the dead, our faith will be empty indeed.”

St. Paul writes that just as all die because of their union with Adam, so all will be raised to life because of their union with Jesus in Baptism.

In Romans 6:4-5, it says, “We were buried with Jesus through Baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall be united with him in the resurrection.”

Risen, glorified body

When believers faithfully live their Baptismal promises, they will enjoy a risen glorified body and God’s gift of Heaven. In First Corinthians 2:9 it is written: “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him,”

However, those who die in friendship with God but are not fully perfected must undergo the purification of Purgatory before they can enter Heaven.

In no. 1002 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says, ‘‘Christ will raise us up ‘on the last day’, but it is also true that in a certain way we have already risen with Christ. For by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ.”

Strengthened by the Eucharist

During Lent we embraced prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to help us renew and live our baptismal promises. A daily examination of conscience and striving to receive the Eucharist reverently helps us to better live our faith.

The Eucharist strengthens us to do what we cannot do by ourselves. This includes turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, loving and trusting again after we have been deeply hurt, and much more.

In John 6:54, it says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them upon the last day.” Let us rejoice because Christ offers to share his risen life with us now and forever!

Fr. Don Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.