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Ordained in 2011, Father Friel served for five years as Parochial Vicar at St. Anselm Parish in Northeast Philly. He is currently studying toward a doctorate in liturgical theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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“If I could only make the faithful sing the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Credo, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei…that would be to me the finest triumph sacred music could have, for it is in really taking part in the liturgy that the faithful will preserve their devotion. I would take the Tantum Ergo, the Te Deum, and the Litanies sung by the people over any piece of polyphony.”
— Giuseppe Cardinal Sarto, Letter to Msgr. Callegari (1897)

The Resurrected Christ
published 24 April 2012 by Fr. David Friel

I’ve been annoyed all this week. You know why? Because I haven’t been able to watch the Phillies. You know why? Because they’ve been on the West coast since Monday, and the games have all started at 10:15 at night. I’m what you would call a diehard Phillies fan, but there’s no way I am going stay up to watch a baseball game that begins at 10:15 PM. It just ain’t happening.

I can tell you, though, that they’ve won 3 games and lost 4 games since Monday. How do I know their dismal week’s record? I wasn’t there, and I didn’t see it on TV or hear it on the radio. So, how do I know how the games turned out? Simple: I read about it in the paper.

Why do I mention all this? The Gospels from the last two Sundays recount very similar occasions of the resurrected Lord appearing to the disciples. I think sometimes when we hear these stories, we get jealous. After all, the risen Christ really appeared to the disciples; He showed them the wounds in His hands and His feet; He even ate a meal with them. How come those disciples got to have that experience, but we can’t? Wouldn’t it be so much easier to believe if the risen Christ appeared to us?

I’m not so sure. Think about this: if I can believe that the Phillies won 3 of their games last week because I read about it in The Inquirer, is it really that unreasonable to believe what the Gospels tell us about the Life of Christ? Sure, you can’t believe everything you read, but it’s reasonable to trust the sports section, because a reporter was actually there, watching the game, so that he could tell all of us back home on the East coast what happened.

It’s far more reasonable to trust the Sacred Scriptures, which aren’t simply the work of a staff reporter. The Bible is inspired by God and written by actual eyewitnesses who lived with Jesus and saw Him and touched Him and broke bread with Him. St. Peter said it, himself, in the Acts of the Apostles: “The Author of Life you put to death, but God raised Him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.”

Think of another example: I’ve never been to Utah, but I believe that it exists. That’s a reasonable thing to believe. No one would call me crazy for believing in Utah, even though I’ve never been there. In much the same way, having faith in Jesus and in His Resurrection is reasonable. We have it on good authority.

The modern, empiricist idea that we need to have physical evidence presented to us before we can ever believe something (aka, the “verification principle”) is ridiculous. If we used that standard for everything in life, I would have no reason to believe that Utah exists. So, why do we sometimes try to apply that standard to faith? We live in a time that exalts scientific proof and disparages religious faith. There should, however, be a great harmony between the two, since both science and faith are reasonable. We advocate for Fides ET ratio.

The Resurrection accounts should never make us jealous. We don’t need to have been there—in the Upper Room or at the tomb—in order to encounter and believe in the risen Christ. The Scriptures are worthy of our trust, and faith is a virtue that could stand to be strengthened in all of us.

Through the testimony of the Scriptures and the gift of faith, we, too—like Peter and the Apostles—are witnesses of the Resurrection!