My friend Mark Hart, the vice-president of Life Teen, got onto a plane one day and the guy sitting next to him asked him what he did for a living. When Mark told him he worked in Catholic youth ministry, the man politely explained that he wasn’t a believer and it was his belief that the resurrection of Jesus was faked; that the Apostles stole the body of Jesus and what we are doing today is worshipping an ideal and not the risen Son of God.
Then Mark told the man that if he was right, that if Christ hadn’t risen from the dead then this man’s explanation was an even more implausible miracle. That a handful of fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot and other uneducated day laborers invented the biggest lie in the history of the world (one that has re-shaped the world) and they were all martyred for it, all just to protect a lie.
Basically they left the comfort of their businesses, homes and families… went to the corners of the earth, were chased out of towns, spat upon, imprisoned, tortured and hunted… they were crucified upside down, burned alive at the stake, cut up by gladiators, fed to wild animals, dragged behind chariots and hurled hundreds of feet down to their deaths…all to keep their sham quiet, all to protect a lie.
So, we have to ask ourselves - which is more implausible - God fulfilling prophecies thousands of years old out of His fidelity and great love... or tradesmen hatching a hair-brained scheme and sealing it with their blood?
I am often asked what made me want to become a priest. And there are a number of reasons. But, truth to be told, the real reason why I am a priest is because of the Resurrection. Because 2,000 years ago, a man said he was the Son of God. Then (in what must have seemed impossible for his disciples to believe) God was killed. And then (in what was nearly impossible for his disciples to believe) he rose from the dead.
The real reason why some of us have traveled long distances to be with our families this day is not merely because we want to be close to loved ones. It’s because we are responding to the fact that the Son of God has risen from the dead.
The real reason why you give your lives unselfishly to your spouses and children in the everyday sacrifices is not merely because it is your duty as mothers and fathers. It’s because you are responding to the fact that the Son of God has risen from the dead.
The real reason why there are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world is not merely because we have beautiful music, art, liturgy and preaching. It’s because we are responding to the fact that the Son of God has risen from the dead.
The real reason why we the Church has fed, clothed, and housed more people in need than any other group or institution in history is not merely because we want to do good for one another. It’s because we are responding to the fact that the Son of God has risen from the dead.
The real reason why there are institutions such as hospitals and universities in the world is not merely because it is a moral responsibility to care for the sick and to educate the young. It’s because we are responding to the fact that the Son of God has risen from the dead. (Did you know that? There were no hospitals before Jesus. The sick sat on the side of the road. It wasn’t until after his resurrection that we decided we needed to do something about sickness in the world.
The real reason why you and I are here in this Church, right now, and every Sunday of the year, is not merely because we want to fulfill an obligation. It’s because we are responding to the fact that the Son of God has risen from the dead.
The real reason for all our hope, all our joy, all our faith, all our love... the reason why we are alive; why our hearts beat, our lungs breath, our minds think and our souls are perpetual motion machines destined for eternal bliss in Heaven is because, as my friend Mark says, “God would rather die than risk spending eternity without you.” That is a meditation we can reflect on all day today; indeed, all of our lives: "God would rather die than risk spending eternity without you."
The reason for all of this is because He has, in fact, risen from the dead.