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New Life, Stronger Than Before

“The tomb was empty,” the Scriptures say, metaphorically perhaps but pointedly, nevertheless. People came to know Jesus’ presence again, not the same as before the crucifixion, true, but real, nevertheless. Transformed. Somehow or other Jesus had defeated death, had snatched new life from its cavernous throat. The implications were overwhelming. Death, even once transcended, could never be permanent again. In fact, life itself could never be the same again. Jesus risen from the dead made life the stuff of eternity. Jesus transformed leads us to look beyond the obvious, to allow for the presence of God in alien places, in unanticipated ways.
The question is, of course, what really happened there? And what does it have to do with us? The answer is simple. Transformation happened. What had always been became more than it was. And because of that, life changed everywhere. The transformation was on both sides: Jesus waxed to new fullness, yes, but so did the people around him. New life burgeoned everywhere.
Where once they had known Jesus, in retrospect people now saw the Christ, the anointed one of God for whom they waited as well. There were witnesses. Women first, then the apostles, then people on the road. But, most interesting of all, they each saw him differently now. He did not live with them now: he simply “came” to them. He did not do the things he did before. He showed a new side of himself—or if not really new, at least largely unnoticed before this time. This radiant Jesus had always been there, had even been glimpsed from time to time, perhaps, but had never before been this fully luminous, completely effulgent, totally aglow, entirely apparent to the people around him. That we understand. We know that growth and change are not death.
One thing is for sure: The Resurrection of Jesus is not about “resuscitation.” A corpse does not come to life here and wait again to die. A body does not rise to bleed again. No, the Resurrection of Jesus is not about revivification of an old life, it is about experiencing a new kind of life entirely. And no one knows how it happened; we only know that it happened. 
Resurrection testifies to the metamorphosis of the Jesus of history to the Christ of faith. It is about coming to grips with the transformed and transforming presence of Christ then, now, and always. Once that happens, life is never again the same. Life begins anew.
To say, “I believe in Jesus Christ…who rose from the dead,” then, is to say I believe that the Resurrection goes on and on and on forever. Every time Jesus rises in our own hearts in new ways, the Resurrection happens again. Every time we see Jesus where we did not recognize him before—in the faces of the poor, in the love of the unloved, in the revelatory moments of life, Jesus rises anew. But that is not all. The real proof of the Resurrection lies not in the transformation of Jesus alone, but the transformation awaiting us who accept it.
The real lesson of resurrection may be its strangest, strongest one. When Jesus died, hope died. The apostles grieved the death of Jesus. The public was scandalized. The synagogue said good riddance to a troublemaker. The entire enterprise collapsed. But in the end, out of apparent failure, came new life stronger than it had ever been before. And so, too, for us. When one phase of life ends, a new one arises, if we do not spend too much time grieving the one before it, if we allow new grace to flow through us.
                    —from In Search of Belief  by Joan Chittister (Liguori/Triumph)