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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Revisit: What if Jesus didn't really rise from the dead?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
         and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

(See last year's similar discussion, posted here)

Every once in a while I will hear a homily delivered about the Multiplication of the Loaves that goes something like this: 

Let's be open minded and consider this possibility:  what if Jesus didn't actually cause a miracle of creating enough food for thousands out of just a few loaves of bread?  What if the actual miracle was that of Jesus inspiring the crowds to share the bread that they had actually hidden in their cloaks!  Jesus' preaching moved the crowds to remove the selfishness from their hearts and motivated their consciences into sharing with others.  

I've always hated it when I heard this type of homily because it humanizes Jesus and removes the supernatural element from our faith.  Yes, of course, Jesus was fully human and I suppose it's possible that the miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves (the only miracle that is recorded in all 4 gospels, by the way) was more a "miracle of sharing" than a supernatural foreshadowing of the Eucharist.  But I don't think so.  In fact, our Catechism states this:

The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist. CCC 1335

So what does this have to do with the Apologetics topic at hand?

There are some Christian scholars who propose something they consider to be deliciously open minded:  Christ didn't really rise from the dead. He only "rose" in the hearts and minds of his disciples who understood Jesus' revolutionary message of "love one another" and "resurrected" it by proclaiming to the ancient Near East.  Jesus was a man.  A man who died tragically and horribly.  But he didn't actually rise from the dead.  The disciples were just a little freaked out after seeing their hero crucified so they got together and decided to perpetuate the love and tolerance their hero had espoused by telling a little white lie:  Jesus did not really die!

It's the same genre of people who want to disavow themselves of anything miraculous or supernatural (like the Multiplication of the Loaves). What's important to them is Jesus' message of love and tolerance.  In other words, it doesn't really matter whether Christ suffered, died and rose because, after all, we have his legacy:  we all now know, thanks to Jesus, that we must love one another.

How do Catholics respond?  By offering the words of the Holy Spirit:  "If Christ is not risen, our faith is in vain."--1 Corinthians 15:17.  Our faith proclaims: 
The Resurrection above all constitutes the confirmation of all Christ's works and teachings. All truths, even those most inaccessible to human reason, find their justification if Christ by his Resurrection has given the definitive proof of his divine authority, which he had promised. --CCC 651

I humbly (and I hope charitably) submit that it is truly a ridiculous proposition to claim that one can be a Christian and can reject the Resurrection (that is, the literal resurrection of our Lord and Savior.)

For more in-depth study visit these websites:

Catholics Come Home

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

1 comment:

  1. A lot of Christians are taught to believe in a 'god of the gaps' from what I can tell. Anything that can't be explained is attributed to divine nature. This is a shame, to me, in that science explains physical phenomena as it advances, leaving people with this worldview with a decreasing presence of the divine in their eyes.