Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
The Resurrection of the Lord
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The Resurrection is the climax of the great drama of our redemption.

In “Witnesses of the Resurrection” St. John Henry Newman noted that God ordinarily works through a few to reach many. The Apostles and first disciples were relatively few, and they were the ones chosen as witnesses of Christ’s victory over death.

After the resurrection through history until today,  Christians bear testimony to the power of the resurrection. This was the case with Newman. Those who knew him well, for instance, John Bowden, John Keble, and Edward Pusey were edified by his friendship and his Christian affection. Newman in turn experienced Easter joy and peace in the relationship with his friends and their families.

Newman lived the season of Lent in 1844  at Littlemore, although his fasting was less strict the years immediately preceding. On April 7, 1844, the entry for Easter was simply that: “Easter” and the words “to Keble,” presumably indicating that he visited his friend John Keble.  The following days he exchanged letters with his friend Edward Pusey whose young daughter Lucy was dying. Lucy sent Newman her “respectful love” and thanked him for all his kindness. Newman was to her an instrument of God’s loving presence. 

A few weeks later on April 22, Lucy died; Pusey wrote to tell Newman of her last moments of life. Before dying she had what he thought was a vision of Christ: “All at once her eyes opened wide and I never such a gaze as that which was invisible to us, which continued for some time; and after this had continued for some little while, she looked me full in the face, and there came such an earthly smile, so full of love also; all expression of pain disappeared and was swallowed up in joy.” To Pusey it seemed like the countenance of someone already in Paradise.

Death with the collapse of everything that is human seems a defeat. But Lucy’s death was not a defeat. She had fought the good fight; she had kept the faith and won the crown.  Her father bore testimony that through her suffering she had matured in a life of prayer and union with God. She had triumphed with Christ. This, indeed, is the meaning of Christ’s power over death, and the meaning of his Resurrection manifested in the lives of his disciples.

Our Christian lives should bear testimony to the power of the resurrection. Such was the testimony that Lucy, her father Edward Pusey, and John Henry Newman gave. As Jesus teaches, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.” (Mt 7: 19-20). It is through our thoughts and words, acts of service, and of our work, that we bear witness to Christ.

For this reason, years later, amid the continued religious persecution of Catholics in England, Newman reminded his fellow Oratorians in Birmingham not to pay attention to the newspaper headlines in London. They would be known by those in Birmingham by their manner of living. 

In our conversations and actions and even by our countenance we can convey to others the peace and joy which Christ’s Resurrection produces, giving testimony to the saving power of grace.

For a Christian, death is no longer defeat nor something to fear, rather it is the sign of Christ’s victory. Through his death and resurrection Jesus triumphed over sin, death, and the Devil. The Cross has become the sign of his victory, his glorious resurrection, and the promise of our resurrection. By the grace He won for us, already here on earth we share in the fruits of the Paschal Mystery. Resurrexit sicut dixit!

 

 

 


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