Have you heard of this book? So I’m Dead—Now What? There are many popular versions of it. In brief, if you can’t afford a lawyer to write up a will, you can fill in this book with your final instructions to give to your loved ones. The title of the book gave me an idea for taking a look at Easter. How about this?
Christ Is Risen—Now What? That title is incomplete. Let’s add a little more: Christ Is Risen and Reigning—Now What? Better. Now let’s try this: Christ Is Risen and Reigning and Returning—Now What? We have to answer that question, and we should come up with something better than, “Look busy!”
Christ is risen indeed! Sin and death do not have the final word! Therefore we are to live and die as Christians, who insist that whoever dies with Christ shall rise with Christ.
Christ reigns—now! He is the universal sovereign authority over all creation. He is the commander of all.
Christ is returning—he has promised it! As the Church says again and again in her worship: “… He who will come again to judge the living and the dead, and the world by fire.” The merciful king will offer mercy to the repentant and justice to the rest. Until that time, what shall we do?
Christ was asked that question: “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one He sent” (John 6:29). How do we know if we really believe?
There is a story of a man visiting Niagara Falls for the first time. Awed by the majestic spread of water, height, and power, he was surprised to see a wire stretched from one end of the falls to the other. He was even more surprised when he saw a woman approach him with a wheelbarrow full of bricks.
She asked him, “Do you believe that I can cross that wire with this wheelbarrow full of bricks?” He replied, “Not at all! That’s crazy!” She winked at him and said, “Watch this!”
He couldn’t believe his eyes as he saw the woman get up on the wire with the wheelbarrow full of bricks. She walked right across, turned around, and came back. She asked him, “NOW do you believe that I can cross the wire with this wheelbarrow?”
“Oh yes!” he said. “Now I believe!” “Do you really believe?” she asked. “Oh yes! Now I really believe!” She asked, “Do you really, really believe?” “Oh yes!” he replied. “I really, really believe!”
She winked at him, emptied the wheelbarrow of bricks and said, “Fine—if you really, really believe, then YOU get in the wheelbarrow.”
Are we ready to do the work of God? Are we ready to believe in the one He sent? St. Ignatius Loyola, in his Spiritual Exercises, gives us three tests, tests to determine whether we believe.
First, imagine this: You are offered all the goods of the world—health, wealth, long life, happiness, good reputation. All these will be yours. All these are for you—for the simple price of one freely committed mortal sin.
If you recoil in horror, and say, “No! No! Not for a mortal sin!” St. Ignatius would say, “If you answer that way, then you can be sure that you believe.”
Do want to know if you really believe? Then imagine this: You are offered all the goods of the world—health, wealth, long life, happiness, good reputation. All these will be yours. All these are for you—for the simple price of one freely committed venial sin.
If you recoil in horror, and say, “No! No! Not for a venial sin!” St. Ignatius would say, “If you answer that way, then you can be sure that you really believe.”
Do you want to know if you really, really believe? Then imagine this: Place yourself before Christ and say, “Even if I could have all the goods of the world without sin, I would accept from your hands, if you wish, the poverty that you endured, the contempt and scorn of the world you suffered, the cross that you carried, so as to be more like you.”
St. Ignatius would say, “If you can say that to Christ, then you can be sure that you really, really believe.”
So, today, take some time in prayer. In the presence of Christ, put yourself to the test, and find out if you really, really believe.
When I write next, I will speak of re-learning how to love. Until then, let’s keep each other in prayer.