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Dublin: 21 °C Tuesday 23 July, 2019

Column: 'I'd like to know the science of the resurrection but my belief goes beyond an empty tomb'

Hope for humanity is the key Easter message, writes Fr Richard Gibbons.

Fr Richard Gibbons Rector, Knock Shrine

THOSE OF YOU who follow the crime detective series CSI be it CSI New York or CSI Miami, will know that the crime mystery is solved by a detailed forensic examination of the crime scene in minute detail that in a way makes it almost impossible not to catch the perpetrator.

I like these shows. I love the detail of the scientific way in unlocking the mystery and solving it. A whole case can depend on a strand of hair found at the scene, it is fascinating to watch.

Thinking of Holy Week and of the resurrection of Jesus got me thinking about CSI. Over the years I have told congregations and students that I would love to have been on the spot at the empty tomb with “CSI Jerusalem” two thousand years ago.

I would like to know what exactly happened

What was the scientific aspect of the resurrection itself and why did it happen?

This is a natural human reaction to try to seek out the truth and provide clarity in all things. Sometimes, however, as we deal with detail we might just miss the big picture.

In other words, we may, as the saying goes, miss the wood for the trees.

While I would like to know the science of the resurrection, as a Christian my belief in the resurrection goes beyond an empty tomb outside Jerusalem. It gives me a new way of understanding God and the universe around me.

It gives me great hope for the future of humanity. Hope is key here.

His example makes us better humans

I hope that what I believe in will bring me into the loving embrace of God for eternity, that the promises of Jesus and his example will help me be a better human being in this world and give me a greater understanding of his love for all of us.

This hope is not deceptive. Each of us reading this has been hit by life in one way or another that could cause us to despair, be it illness, a death in the family, loss of a home or job, breakup of a family, imprisonment, or a host of different things.

We may feel like we are going around in circles. As someone said, it’s like the fish who are fooled by their owner when he placed postcards onto the aquarium to give them the impression that they were going somewhere.

In those circumstances it’s hard not to wonder if this is all there is. This life and nothing more? Are we being led on a merry-go-round?

God entered history in the person of Jesus of Nazareth and from the Christian perspective our faith would mean absolutely nothing but for Easter, but for the actual, physical resurrection of Jesus. St Paul puts it well:

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ cannot have been raised either and if Christ has not been raised then our preaching is without substance and so is our faith.

Jesus embodies all that is goodness, accessibility and love

He cuts through all our defenses to give us an insight to our possibilities as human beings – the hope and possibilities of being forgiven and forgiving, of loving and being loved, of looking out for the vulnerable, seeking the lost and knowing that we ourselves are called to share in his resurrection.

Jesus calls us to live life to the full. He calls us to understand that this life is no merry-go-round, it is not a dead end, it has a purpose. There is a wonderful saying that goes, “hope is the bird that sings while the dawn is still dark”

While the world may seem very dark at the moment, and we may have our dark personal moments, we are never left alone. Jesus has overcome the darkness, he is risen and through him great things are possible. Happy Easter to you all.

Fr Richard Gibbons is Rector of Knock Shrine.

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About the author:

Fr Richard Gibbons  / Rector, Knock Shrine

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