This is our Easter issue, the time when we celebrate the central truth of the Christian faith, that Christ died and rose from the dead. It is summed up in St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians where he says: “What I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also.”
What is apparent here is that the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection, while true, are not exhaustive. Indeed, as Fr Richard Ounsworth points out in his scripture reflections in this issue, the evangelists differ. We do not learn in the Gospels about Christ’s appearance to Cephas – that is, St Peter – nor about his appearance to 500 of his followers, men and women. And this is exactly what we should expect of a true story, that it can be seen differently from different perspectives while remaining essentially the same. But what St Paul insists on is that this truth is “as of first importance”. It matters.
Christians argue endlessly about every aspect of Christian life and discipline. So it is salutary to be brought back to basics. What matters for a Christian is that Christ died, rose from the dead and lived again on earth before he returned to heaven. Nothing counts more than this.
And this is why our catechesis, our teaching, should focus on the essentials. We should continue to be as obsessed with the Resurrection as the first Christians were. The great reality of human life is death, and Christ has conquered death. It is an extraordinary article of faith but because it is familiar we don’t grasp its explosive potential.
Perhaps the best way we can celebrate this season is by reading the Resurrection story in all four Gospels, as outlined by Fr Ounsworth – and then reflecting on how strange and wonderful it is.
We wish all our readers a very happy Easter.
This article first appeared in the Easter 2022 issue of the Catholic Herald. Subscribe today.
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