The mercy of God and the rising and dying of Christ are two of the central mysteries of the Christian faith. A theologian explores how one mystery might illuminate the other
“Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy,” Pope Francis proclaimed at the start of the Year of Mercy, inviting Christians everywhere to contemplate mercy’s “mystery”.
This week we immerse ourselves in the mystery of Christ’s dying and rising, and it’s worth asking how one mystery might help us experience the other. It’s strange how resurrection, a theme so fresh, so young, can feel so tired. From a Christian perspective, to believe in God is to believe in the Resurrection, for to believe in God is to believe in the primacy of every good, including the possibility of our own redemption and happiness.
Once during an unusually graced season of my life, I remember reflecting on the “easy” nature of belief. Coming to “believe” in God had been so very hard to accomplish, and yet it was such an effortless place to be. This revelation was a precious gift, because like many others, my natural state more often reflects the earlier struggle. We believers can be remarkably hard on ourselves. Good Friday seems to make good sense, and we guard the tomb like valiant, self-flagellating soldiers, ready to extinguish any life that might emerge and take us by surprise. We can’t believe that God is actually on our side, longing to heal us, and this shapes the way we participate in Christ’s passion. We act as though Friday is some kind of punishment to be perpetually meted out upon our failures, and thus find it difficult to be drawn out of our tomb-like hearts into the message that the world is graced and moving toward the good.