QUESTION and ANSWER
Conducted by Fr. JOHN SYMON
QUESTION — Why exactly is the Resurrection of Christ so important? I read in modern theology books that the Resurrection brought about our salvation. This seems to me to be wrong? It was by Jesus' death that we were saved and his Resurrection simply backs our faith. D.M., Glasgow. ANSWER — One helpful way of clearing up this difficulty is to recall how we examine a great work of art, perhaps a beautiful building or a famous painting. It is not enough to look at the objeot of our admiration from one angle; we need to examine it .first from this viewpoint and then from another.
Take a famous building. Probably 'the only really satisfactory way to 'inspect it would be to walk around outside and inside it and finally to examine it from a helicopter. Because a .helicopier is not the sort of expense which most people indulge in when on holiday, various publishers produce these ,plush books of .photographs which are sold to the tourists who visit our historic Ibuildings.
It is somewhat the same with a great painting; we examine it now in this light and now in that. Only after many attempts and much peering from every possible angle will we really be satisfield that we have done everything necessary for a just appreciation of the painting.
All this perhaps seems a far cry from the death and resurrection of our Saviour but during the central and most sacred season of the year the Church is examining from every angle what is called the Passover of Christ. his death and his resurrection. We cannot separate one from the other. God certainly might have chosen to save us in many °the: possible ways. In actual fact, as the Bible teaches, He chose this way, this one event, the death and resurrection of Jesus. The two go
together for they are two aspects of the one event by which mankind was reconciled with the Father. Just as the ant-lover looks at a famous building now from one angle and now from another, so during Holy Week and Easter the Church looks at the Passover of Jesus now from this aspect and now from that.
On Good Friday we consider the whole Passover of Jesus, ,both death and resurrection, but we look at it .primarify as the bitter suffering and lonely death of Jesus. While neither denying nor forgetting that this death was a triumph on the Friday we concentrate on the pain and the heart-break endured by Jesus, his mother, and his friends. In common With every other human death. this one too was marked by anguish, but 'this sorrow lasted for a time and now it is past.
On Easter Sunday we again look at the whole Passover but now it is considered first and foremost, not as an agonising but temporary tragedy which it was, but as a lasting triumph which it also was and is. On Eater Day we remember the ipain and the 'loneliness as the means whereby Jesus triumphed over Satan and defeated death for himself and for us.
Jesus's death and 'Resurrection are one event. The process of dying, although prolonged in his oase, lasted only a short time. As 'the risen Lord, he lives for ever and is the source of the risen life we enjoy as .members of his body, the Church. In the sacraments and in our prayer it is the risen Lord we encounter, stilt pleading his eternally valid sacrifice on our behalf, but utterly victorious over sin and death.
The real answer to the question, and to the common difficulty it expresses, is that Jesus' death and resurrection are not two distindt events but one happening, a single event which we can consider from two angles. "If Christ has not been raised," says St. Paula "then our preaching is 'in vain and your faith is in vain."