The Merry Catholic

"MERRY" (mer - ee) adjective: full of cheerfulness; joyous in spirit; mirthful.
"CATHOLIC" (kath - lick) noun: a believer in Christ; the Church founded by Jesus Christ in 33 A.D.

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The Merry Catholic essay: April 16, 2014:

©2014

HAPPY EASTER, AND HO! HO! HO!

Here we are, it’s finally Easter. This is the perfect time to talk about…Christmas.

Christmas?! Well, sure, why not? As the Christian community celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus, it only seems logical that we give some thought to the miracle that made it all possible: the Incarnation.

Most people consider the Easter Resurrection to be a stunning miracle. And, of course, it is. But let me ask you, which is more stunning, that Almighty God—who created living, breathing human beings in the first place—was able to re-animate the dead body of one particular guy at one particular time in history, or that this supernatural, ever-living God would take on human flesh Himself?

God’s power to create life is plain for all to see. I am delighted, but not really surprised, that God used this power to cause a crucified rabbi to regain life 2,000 years ago in Palestine. If He has the power to create life out of non-living material in the first place, He certainly can breathe life back into a once-living organism if He so chooses.

What I find absolutely stunning is that this powerful God also loved His little human creations so much that He became one of them. The power of God—I’m not surprised. The love of God—I’m positively awestruck.

This is why Christmas strikes me as being a more amazing miracle than Easter. Obviously the love of God and the power of God are present in both events. Jesus didn’t allow Himself to be tortured and killed just so He could perform a fancy magic trick three days later. It was His burning love for humanity that made Him offer up His own life as an atoning sacrifice for sin.

Christmas was when this whole spectacular plan of redemption began. It all happened through God’s mighty power. But it all happened because of God’s overflowing love for us.

Once I finally came to believe that there really is a God (oh well, age 27 was better late than never), I never doubted that He possessed the power to do whatever miracle He wants—even raising the dead.

But it sometimes boggles my mind as to WHY He would waste his time saving a bunch of self-centered, ungrateful creatures like we humans. His love is that overwhelming. That is why Easter is easy for me to believe. It’s Christmas with which I struggle.

Many people are just the opposite. They have no problem believing that the little baby in the Bethlehem manger was really Emmanuel, “God with us.” But when it comes to Easter, well, come on now, modern science has proven that resurrections can’t happen, right? I find it odd that we let our views of supernatural phenomena be shaped by a field of study which, by definition, can only concern itself with natural phenomena. That’s kind of like saying, “Well, we just have to follow Fred’s medical advice. After all, he is a successful accountant.” Our modern culture says, “Well, we have to follow the scientists’ advice about supernatural events. After all, they study only natural events.”

If you really were convinced that we were honoring the Son of God four months ago during the Christmas holiday, but today think it is a little bit too impossible to believe that a dead guy got up and walked, you’ve got it all backwards. The divine baby in that manger is the difficult leap of faith. If He really was who the Gospels say He was, then what happened in a Jerusalem graveyard early on a Sunday morning 33 years later is a piece of cake to accept.

(Note: Listen to these "Merry Catholic" essays on WJMJ, the radio station of the Archdiocese of Hartford, at 88.9 FM or by streaming audio at wjmj.org.)