Resurrection Sunday. What a beautiful day! And what a great opportunity for me to quote my favorite authors speaking on this most wonderful of topics!
Among my top 4 Christian authors is Joseph Girzone. I love every single book, whether fiction or non-fiction, that he has written, beginning with Joshua, which taught me about ecumenism. Fr. Girzone’s Joshua is the fictional hero I aspire to be like.
The following quote is from Chapter 16 of A Portrait of Jesus (1998, Doubleday):
I always thought there was a lot of humor in what happened next. Jesus knew the disciples (in Emmaus) would run as fast as they could back to Jerusalem to tell the apostles. But after not approaching the apostles all day long, now, all of a sudden, He has to reach them before the two disciples. It seems He was having fun with this new kind of glorified body that could move with the speed of thought.
Arriving at the apostles’ hiding place, he could have gently rapped at the door and quietly called to them… Not Jesus. Now, rather than make an ordinary entrance, He has to make a dramatic appearance. It is night. The room is dark and smoky from the oil lamps, which are casting strange shadows around the room. Suddenly, Jesus passes through the solid walls and appears in their midst. They are absolutely terrified, and jump to their feet, aghast, speechless.
“Well, don’t just stand there. It’s me.”
Also among my top 4 Christian authors is C.S. Lewis, whose fantasy and non-fiction are, to me, equally splendid. One of my best brothers in Christ, Louis, introduced me to the works of C.S. Lewis while we were flatmates doing our PhD in Tokyo.
This quote is from Chapter 15 of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Book 2 of the Complete Chronicles of Narnia (which I happily found for my godson Karl while I was taking a break from a conference in New Zealand many years ago):
At that moment they heard from behind them a loud noise…. The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan.
“Who’s done it?” cried Susan. “What does it mean? Is it more magic?”
“Yes!” said a great voice from behind their backs. “It is more magic.” They looked round. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.
“Oh, Aslan!” cried both the children… “But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.
“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.”
Also among my top 4 is Dallas Willard, whose excellent writing, not without humor, I hope to emulate one day.
This quote is from Chapter 10 of The Divine Conspiracy (1997, Harper Collins):
The absolute bedrock of their confidence concerning their future was, rather, in their experience of the postresurrection Jesus.
He had a body: a focus of his personality in space and time that was publicly observable and interacted with physical realities. But it was radiant, and therefore it was called “the body of his glory” (Phil. 3:21). And it was not restrained by space, time, and physical causality in the manner of physical bodies…
In any case, we should expect that in due time, we will be moved into our eternal destiny of creative activity with Jesus… Thus we should not think of ourseves as destined to be celestial bureaucrats, involved eternally in celestial administrivia. That would be only slightly better than being caught in an everlasting church service. No, we should think of our destiny as being absorbed in a tremendously creative team effort, with unimaginably splendid leadership, on an inconceivably vast plane of activity, with ever more comprehensive cycles of productivity and enjoyment. This is the “eye hath not seen, neither ear heard” that lies before us in the prophetic vision (Is 64:4).
The newest among my favorite Christian authors is Joseph Ratzinger, known better as Pope Benedict XVI. I bought Part One of his Jesus of Nazareth only as a souvenir of my visit to Rome in 2010. But when I started reading it on a long train ride to Assisi, I couldn’t stop!
The quote is from Chapter 9 of Jesus of Nazareth, Part Two: Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection (2011, Ignatius Press):
One initial difference is that in the confessional tradition only men are named as witnesses, whereas in the narrative tradition women play a key role, indeed they take precedence over the men. This may be linked to the fact that in the Jewish tradition only men could be admitted as witnesses in court—the testimony of women was considered unreliable. So the “official” tradition, which is, so to speak, addressing the court of Israel and the court of the world, has to observe this norm if it is to prevail in what we might describe as Jesus’ ongoing trial.
The narratives, on the other hand, do not feel bound by this juridical structure, but they communicate the whole breadth of the Resurrection experience. Just as there were only women standing by the Cross—apart from the beloved disciple—so too the first encounter with the risen Lord was destined to be for them. The Church’s juridical structure is founded on Peter and the Eleven, but in the day-to-day life of the Church it is the women who are constantly opening the door to the Lord and accompanying him to the Cross, and so it is they who come to experience the Risen One.
May the Risen Lord continue to inspire and enable Fr. Girzone, Prof. Willard, Pope Benedict, and you and me to inspire others to love God and neighbor in word as well as deed!
Happy Resurrection Sunday!