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The Resurrection and the Meaning of Life

If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:1-4

Every human heart longs to know its own meaning. Yet many, many people today feel that their longing is in vain. Their hearts ache with discouragement, or are even broken with despair.

Bishop Erik Varden of Trondheim, Norway writes of a time when he was not yet sixteen years-old and a self-described agnostic. In his 2018 book, The Shattering of Loneliness: On Christian Remembrance, Varden recalls becoming interested in the music of Mahler on a purely technical, aesthetic level.

The Lord often uses our partial insights concerning the transcendentals of the good, true, and beautiful as breaches in the wall of our defenses against Him. He makes His way into our minds and hearts and captures them by means of grace. He did so with Varden, leading him to listen to Mahler’s Second Symphony, the Resurrection.

The Symphony’s words bear witness to the indomitable power of life, resurrected:

You are sown to blossom again.
The harvest’s Lord goes and
Gathers in, like sheaves,
Us, who have died.
Have faith, heart, have faith: nothing will be lost
to you. What you have longed for is yours, yes,
yours; yours is what you have loved and fought
for. Have faith: you were not born in vain. You
have not lived or suffered in vain.

This message of the triumph of life over suffering and death struck the teenage Varden powerfully. So began a powerful and lifelong experience of metanoia:

At these words, something burst. The repeated insistence, ‘not in vain, not in vain’, was irresistible. It was not just that I wanted to believe it. I knew it was true. It sounds trite, but at that moment, my consciousness changed. With a certainty born neither of overwrought emotion nor of cool analysis, I knew I carried something within me that reached beyond the limits of me. I was aware of not being alone. There was no special warmth, no ecstatic inner movement. There were no tears. But I could no more doubt the truth of what I had found than I could doubt that I existed. The sense of it has never left me. That this should be so amazes me still.

The good and glorious news of Christ’s Resurrection has the power to make hearts filled with discouragement and despair burst. Out of such hearts spills the poison of sin, doubt, and the corrosive sense of one’s own meaninglessness. Once empty, such hearts are ready to be filled by God with His saving and healing grace. They are filled by the indwelling Holy Trinity.

The proclamation of Christ’s empty tomb to the apostles struck them like lightning and prompted an immediate response. Peter and John ran to the tomb (Jn 20:4), and finding it empty, their lives were changed forever by Easter faith (20:8).

The apostles preaching that Jesus is risen had a similarly transformative effect on those who heard their witness. Jews and Gentiles alike came to see in Jesus the fulfillment of the promises of the Old Covenant, as well as the fulfillment of the deepest longings of their hearts. Even in the midst of tremendous suffering, the freshness of Christian faith in the Resurrection in those early years turned often lowly and timid people into orators of divine power and men and women of iron will and heroic courage.

What is the meaning of a single human life? The question is phrased this way because a discouraged or despairing person thinks less often of the meaning of human life in general than of the meaning of his or her own life.

The message of Easter is that God has suffered and died and risen for all of us, but also for each of us. Easter proclaims that over and beyond all of life’s seeming defeats, there is a final victory. This greatest of feasts tells us, in the words of the old adage, that Satan will have his hour, but God will have His day. Suffering comes to all, but in Christ suffering becomes instrumental in our salvation.

Read more at Catholic World Report 

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