“Ask the Deacon” features three Transitional Deacons who will be ordained June 3 to the priesthood in the Diocese of Providence — Deacons Brian Morris, Joseph Brice and Stephen Battey — who respond to questions about the faith from Rhode Island Catholic readers.
Q. Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
In his book “Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week,” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI stresses the importance of the Resurrection. He affirms that, “The Christian faith stands or falls with the truth of the testimony that Christ is risen from the dead” (Holy Week, pg. 241). The empty tomb testifies that Jesus was not just a kind man, who had a preference for those on the margins of society and a habit of shaking up those in positions of authority. Rather, He is the incarnate Word of God. The following are a few considerations that we can offer as a justification for our faith in the Resurrection, the case for our Easter joy.
We do not need to rely on the eyewitness testimony of only one person, or even a small group of persons. Rather, our risen Lord appeared to many. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary on their way to tell the disciples about the empty tomb (Matthew 28: 9-10). He visited the Apostles, even allowing Thomas to place his finger into His wounds (John 20:19-29). Jesus visited over five hundred disciples at once before he visited St. Paul. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). Just as His appearances gave confidence and peace to the earliest disciples, so too do they reassure us.
The Roman Guards
We owe at least some small debt of gratitude to the chief priests. In requesting a detail of guards to watch over the sealed tomb, our faith in the supernatural reality of the Resurrection is strengthened even further. Unbelievers cannot assert that someone simply emptied the tomb in the cover of night (Matthew 27:62-66). Even the soldiers were shaken to their core when the seal was broken.
The Shroud of Turin
Though the Church has never formally pronounced the authenticity of this linen cloth, this shroud is believed to be the burial cloth that was worn by Jesus in the tomb. Located at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in northern Italy, it is visited by pilgrims by the thousands every year. The shroud has baffled scientists for decades, who are unable to determine precisely how the resemblance of a man was burned into the fabric of the shroud. It remains on display to further encourage the Christian faithful that our Lord is risen, He is risen indeed!
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