Word Magazine April 2000 Page 3
DEFINED BY THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
By Very Rev. John Abdalah
A Christian is one who is defined by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, even in a day and age when some who call themselves by God’s own name deny the reality of the very act that defines them. You see, our God is one who acts in history and, in history, rose from the dead as was foretold. Risen from the dead, He is alive, and working in each of us. We are in Him and He is in us. His life in us could not end on Calvary; Life could not die. He can only be with us if He is risen from the dead, and He is.
We can speak of this with such confidence because He has revealed this to us. First, to those of us who heard His voice through prophecy even centuries before the incarnation, then to those among us who witnessed His earthly life and His empty tomb, then by those who stood with us as martyrs and confessors, suffering greatly to witness to the truth, and finally to those of us who, through prayer and love, have had these truths revealed to us in this modern age. All of this can only be so if He became man, died and rose from the dead. Only in rising from the dead can He lift us up into His resurrection, and save us.
If Christ is not God who acts, who is risen from the dead, who shares his life with us, is He but an idea? Heavens, NO! He is a God of miracles, of mercies, of love and of peace, not just in a time gone by, but in the present time. Understanding God, then, allows us to figure out who we are, we who put Him on in baptism, die with him in the waters, and resurrect with Him in his glory. We are indeed His people, and our vocation is to be and to do as He is. All of Lent helps us understand this, taking us gently and systematically through a process that allows us to see the Kingdom, and to choose life there. In the Scripture lessons of the Lenten season, we see God at work.
In our daily lives, we also see God working. Sometimes I have prayed for loved ones to be spared their sufferings and be healed in times when physicians have run their course of medical treatments. At times, God has answered my prayers with miracles of physical healing. Other times, His response after prayer and anointing has been some spiritual healing. Still other times, I have been unable to interpret what God was doing. What I know for sure is that God hears our prayers, and acts. God does not have to be accountable to me, nor do I have the wisdom or understanding to comprehend all that He does. But I have seen enough to know. He loves each of us, cares for each of us and gives to each of us all we need to respond to His love and choose to be with Him in His Resurrection.
Sometimes I have seen Him in young men who choose to offer their lives in His service. Leaving family and friends behind, they answer God’s call and enter into active ministry. I have seen Him in men and women who offer their lives to serve those who are hungry, imprisoned, or ill. These folks work around the clock, relieving pain and sharing God’s life and mercy. I have seen Christ in the monastics and the missionaries, who leave their social centers behind, to share a life in Christ full-time. I see Christ in the everyday struggles of ordinary Christians who do what is right, speak with humility and patience, and express God’s comfort and patience. How often I have been humbled by the witness of those around me.
It is my sacred vocation to witness to these truths of the Resurrection in all that I do. As a husband, I enjoy opportunities to show my wife God’s love and His generosity. How I can delight in sharing His joy, by bringing love to my spouse. As a dad, I can share my faith with my children, who are themselves miracles and gifts of God, and who can then share life and love with others. As a son, nephew and grandchild, I can offer prayers for those who are already translated into the resurrection, offering them encouragement and love in the God who surrounds them. As a man, I can share my enthusiasm with other men, modeling a life that reflects how Christ is alive in my life, a way others can emulate for joy and peace.
Pascha is the day that defines me, because I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ who rose from the dead. It is this risen Lord that gives me my reason for living, for working, for talking and for being. He is my God, and I His servant, a relationship that will endure the centuries. Pascha is more than an event. It is a truth that defines who we are as human.