“If Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead?” (I Corinthians 15:12)
Strange as it may seem, even though the resurrection is the core of the Gospel and of the apostles’ preaching, there were some in the Corinthian community who did not accept Jesus’ resurrection. I doubt that there are many within the body of my readers who think this way. At the same time, St. Paul’s words today are a good review of why we believe in the resurrection even though there were no “eyewitnesses” to the event itself.
If there is no resurrection from the dead,
1. then Christ himself has not been raised;
2. all preaching of the Gospel is therefore useless;
3. As is their faith in Christ, who, in this hypothesis, no longer exists.
4. Paul and his colleagues are guilty of telling terrible lies when they say they have had a personal experience of the Risen Christ;
5. and the faith of the Corinthians has no basis whatever.
6. They are still in their sins which have not been forgiven when they were baptized.
7. All their brothers and sisters who have died have gone into total oblivion.
8. And, if faith in Christ is valid only for this life, then the Christians are among the most to be pitied for enduring so much hardship and persecution for something which ends in nothing.
I want to concentrate on #8 in the preceding list because it pertains most closely to the experience of CUSANS who patiently endure physical suffering and the frustrations of disability because of their faith in the Resurrection.
Every once in a while, a friend or colleague will ask me about my health issues. As my doctor is fond of repeating, “there are a number of things going on.” Many of these issues can be traced to the fact that I had polio as an infant. Although I made something of a recovery from that illness, I still suffer from some of the aftereffects. In addition, I lost my hearing in the right ear to Meniere’s Disease, I have survived a bout of colon cancer, and I am now dealing with psoriatic arthritis. There are those who tell me that they would not be able to deal with all of these issues. “How do you do it?” is their usual comment.
The fact of the matter is that I carry with me all of the usual fear and anxiety that comes to anyone who is dealing with fragile health. However, I once had a spiritual director who helped me to admit my fears and my anxiety. It was his contention that admitting that I was fearful and anxious was more helpful than pretending otherwise. “Once you admit it, then you can work through it. Until you admit it, you simply push it aside, but it will always find a way to come back at you. Tell God of your fears and your anxiety in your prayer. You might be surprised at God’s response.”
That was very, very helpful for me. Because I know that God knows, I am confident that with God’s strength I can do anything. No one needs to pity me. Yes, my chronic illness and disability can be hardships. However, as St. Paul asserts, it will not end in “nothing.” Christ’s resurrection has made it possible for me to see beyond the difficulties to that which is awaiting me.
Many CUSANS will tell me that they regard their illness and their disability as a blessing in disguise. While I would like to say that I agree with them, I also have to admit that if I could choose I would opt for better health. At the same time, I no longer find it so fearful; I am no longer terribly anxious. This is not to say that at some time in the future, I might find myself in that situation. However, if I do, I will readily fall back on my faith in Jesus’ resurrection and tell God once again.
Christ is surely risen! Alleluia!
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator