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“When they were coming down from the mountain, he ordered them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of man rose from the dead.
This stuck with them and they discussed what it meant to rise from the dead ”(Mk 9: 9-10).
The resurrection is not so easy to understand. The disciples of Jesus themselves, the apostles, had not understood what Jesus meant when he spoke to them of “resurrection.” When they come down from Mount Tabor, after the experience of the transfiguration, which is a foretaste of the resurrection.
Perhaps, we are already familiar with the language and we speak of “resurrection” as a theoretical or theological concept that we link to the person of Jesus. But I am not absolutely convinced that we know how to translate it into our everyday life experience. It may happen to us like the apostles of Jesus, that the message often seems somewhat incomprehensible to us.
– When I speak of “resurrection” what do I mean? What images help me understand and interpret this term?
“Do not be afraid. Are you looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the crucified? He is not here. He has risen. Look where they put it. ” (Mk 16.6).
Jesus during his life was identified as the Nazarene, for obvious reasons. He shouldn’t be a place recognized for anything in particular. It is an anonymous city, which does not appear in the Old Testament. Nathanael himself wonders “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (Jn 1.46).
– Why am I recognizable? What do people who know me identify with?
“The other disciples said to him:” We have seen the Lord. ” But he (Thomas) answered them: “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in your hands, if I don’t put my finger in the hole of the nails and don’t put my hand in their side, I don’t believe it” (Jn 20, 25).
After his death, Jesus changes his identity, he is recognized as “the crucified one”. The nail wounds and the spear mark on the side serve to identify the risen with the crucified. It is the same Jesus who walked the roads of Galilee and Judea, the one who touched lepers with his hands, the one who healed the sick and broke bread with his own hands to distribute it to hungry people. Those hands and feet, pierced by the nails at the crucifixion, are the ones that are presented to his disciples in the apparitions as a sign of recognition and identification. The disciple Thomas is the one who asks to see the signs that identify the Risen One with the Jesus that he had known in his public life.
The experience of the resurrection is personal, we can say that subjective, before the same signs one disciple immediately believes and another is perplexed and surprised, it seems that he has not yet taken the step of faith. This is what happens with Peter and John on Easter morning, when they are warned by Mary Magdalene that the tomb is open. Pedro enters first and sees the canvases on the floor and the rolled-up shroud in a separate place. He is amazed at the absence of the body of Jesus. However, John enters behind and, seeing the same as Peter, he immediately believes that Jesus has risen. The
The empty tomb and the bandages that had covered Jesus’ body speak volumes to him.
We each have our own signs, very personal experiences, that have helped us to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. It is true that afterwards we share the faith, with the rest of the believers, but all part of a personal encounter with the Risen One, in signs that speak to us.
– What signs have I discovered in my life, in my personal experience, that have helped me to believe that Jesus is alive, that he has risen conquering death?
As with the Risen One, all believers — including us — have our lives marked by signs of resurrection.
The resurrection is an experience in the present, in the today of our life. We should not think that the resurrection is a guarantee of the future, something that will happen only when our pilgrimage through this world ends. Paul, in the letter to the Colossians, speaks of it as an event that has already been verified in us by faith. If you have been raised with Christ… then our life has to show the signs of the resurrection. We cannot live as men without hope.
1) The first sign of the resurrection, which should mark our life, is joy. It is what characterizes the encounter of the Risen One with his disciples. “And the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord” (Jn 20:20). It is not about a punctual joy, which is limited to that moment of the meeting. This joy must be present and manifest in all moments of our life. Every circumstance, even the most painful, can be lived with the joy that is born in this encounter with the Lord.
Brother Charles also lived this joy and tells us about it:
You are resurrected and you ascend to the heavens! So you are in your glory! You do not suffer anymore, you will not suffer anymore, you are happy and you will be so forever … My God, how happy I am, because I love you! It is for your sake that I must take care of myself first of all. How not to rejoice, how satisfied I must be! … My God, you are blessed for eternity, you lack nothing, you are infinitely and eternally happy! I too am happy, my God, because it is You who I love above all. I can tell you that I do not lack anything … That I am in heaven, that whatever happens and what happens to me, I am happy because of your beatitude.
Resolution. — When we are sad, discouraged about ourselves, about others, about things, let us think that Jesus is glorious, seated at the right hand of the Father, blessed forever, and that if we love him as we should, the joy of the infinite Being it must be infinitely above our souls, the sorrows that come from being exhausted and, consequently, before the vision of joy of God, our soul must be jubilant and the pains that drown it disappear like the clouds before the sun; our God is blessed. Let us rejoice without end, for all the evils of creatures are an atom next to the joy of the Creator! There will always be sadness in our life, there must be, because of the love that we carry and we must carry in ourselves all men; also because of the memory of the pains of Jesus and the love we feel for him; because of the desire that we have to have for justice, that is, for the glory of God and the pain that we must experience seeing injustice and God insulted … But these pains, however just they are, should not last in our soul, should not be more than passengers; what should last is our ordinary state; it is what we must return to without ceasing; This is the joy of the glory of God, the joy of seeing that now Jesus does not suffer anymore and will not suffer anymore, but that He is happy forever at the right hand of God.
(Notes from a Retreat in Nazareth from November 5 to 15, 1897)
2) The second sign must be faith. The event of the resurrection and the encounter with the Risen One lead us to believe in God. It is He who has raised Jesus from the dead and raised him from the grave. Faith places us before reality with new eyes, with a deep look. Faith illuminates all reality. All creation, each person, refers us to the Creator. We can find seeds of God’s love wherever we look. God is behind each person and everything.
For Brother Charles, faith makes our life easier:
How happy we are that we believe! How beautiful, tall and pure is the truth! And how human life becomes clear in the light of faith, it becomes simple!
How can you believe, you who receive your glory from one another, and who do not seek the glory that comes only from God? (Jn 5.44). To believe, you have to humble yourself, you have to make yourself small, you have to confess that you have little spirit, admit a number of things that are not understood, obey the Church’s teaching, receive the truth from it, sometimes in a somewhat rude way. , from a sometimes unskillful mouth, submitting the judgment, obeying in spirit … and believing humiliated, because to believe is to believe that one is a sinner, that he can do nothing by himself, that he abuses every day of a thousand graces, to believe is to have in front of yes a divine ideal and to see how far one is, is to see the goodness of God and our ingratitude …
(Meditations on the passages relating to the holy gospels. Nazareth, 1897)
3) The third sign is a transformed life. Paul invites us to aspire to the goods above, not those of the earth. “If you have been raised with Christ, seek the goods from above (…); Aspire to what is above, not what is on earth ”(Col 3,1). We cannot settle or stay only with material things, or think that only they will give us the happiness we crave. We need the material, no doubt, but we have also been created for the spiritual. The encounter with the Risen Jesus changes our life, gives it depth, depth. He asks that our actions be meaningful and express the centrality of that encounter and that presence in us. It is also Paul who says “I live, but it is not I who lives, it is Christ who lives in me. And my life from now on in the flesh, I live it in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me ”(Gal 2:20). We cannot stay in the superficial, we have to go deep inside because there the encounter with God takes place.
Charles de Foucauld refers to his Lord Jesus as the unique Model and tells us:
Let’s follow this unique Model; then we will be sure that we are doing the right thing, because we will no longer be the ones who live, but he who lives in us, and our acts are no longer our poor and miserable human acts, but his, divinely effective.
4) And a last sign that I want to highlight is communion, fraternity. Christ is risen and made us members of his body. That unites us in a permanent, irrevocable way. We do not follow the Lord alone, as individuals, but in community. We celebrate faith with our brothers and sisters and that faith leads us to love everyone, also those who do not believe. The resurrection of Jesus will rejoin the disciples who had dispersed. “After eight days, the disciples were inside again and Thomas with them” (Jn 20:26). It is also a source of communion and unity for us, in our fraternities, for our Church and for our world.
Brother Charles is also a teacher of the fraternity, he had a welcoming lifestyle, especially with the poorest and those furthest from the Lord.
The Fraternity is the house of God in which every poor person, every guest, every sick person is always invited, called, desired, welcomed with joy and gratitude by the brothers who love him, who have a tender affection for him and who consider him his I enter under their roof as the entrance of a treasure: they are, in fact, the treasure of treasures, Jesus himself.
The Fraternity is a port, a recovery in which every human being, especially if he is poor or unhappy, is, at any time, fraternally invited, desired and welcomed.
The Fraternity is the roof of the Good Shepherd.
QUESTIONNAIRE FOR LIFE REVIEW
1. How can I consider the state of joy in my life? At what moments do I experience a growing, greater joy? What realities, events, people make me happy?
2. What elements sustain my faith and give it strength? What realities put my faith in crisis and make it difficult for me to believe?
3. Do I consider my life meaningful? Do I think I reveal the presence of the Risen Lord in me? What elements of my life should change to better express my condition as a disciple of Jesus?
4. Fraternity is one of the fundamental elements of our spirituality:
What can I do this Easter to improve my relationship with the members of my fraternity? How to extend the experience of brotherhood in our presbyteries, in our parish communities, in our Church and in our world?
(Translator’s note: thank you for your understanding and compassion)
“If Christ is not risen, our preaching is vain, your faith is also vain” (1 Cor 15:14)
When I made the decision to be one of those who would offer a few words in this Easter retreat, of this unique Easter in the midst of a pandemic, the first thing that arose in me was a question: what did Charles de Foucauld say about Jesus? risen? Is there any statement of yours, or any comment of yours, about the resurrection of Jesus? Actually, at first he had no answer, he was blank.
But, surely, Charles de Foucauld himself had to bear in mind that forceful affirmation of Paul, with which I wanted to begin this reflection: “If Christ was not risen, our preaching is vain, your faith is also vain.”
It must be remembered, first of all, that CdF is not a theologian. And, therefore, his objective in sharing his writings, letters, comments to the gospel … is not to propose an orderly and structured exposition of the faith. His is not a catechism of the Catholic faith, or a theology book. CdF is recording in writing what he discovers and deepening in his prayer, in his abandonment, and, also, in his incarnate life, close to those who do not know Jesus, and the poorest and most suffering .
On the other hand, at some point it may give the feeling that CdF has only stayed in Nazareth, ignoring the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. But it is not exactly that. He does not cut Jesus, keeping only the first part of his life, and discarding the public life and the finishing touch of him. CdF knows very well the entire public life of Jesus, especially his death and resurrection. Certainly, the redemptive cross of Jesus and the victory of the resurrection had to be part of his prayer and contemplation on many occasions. Without a doubt, he had to include the death of Jesus in this dynamic of descent from God. And the meditation on the resurrection of Jesus was able to confirm in CdF that, indeed, “if the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it bears much fruit.” Although it does not express it in an explicit way and, much less, academic or theological, for CdF there is a unity and coherence between the hidden life of Jesus, and his public life, which culminates in his death and resurrection, and in which we participate in through the Holy Spirit (Pentecost).
“As soon as I understood that there was a God, I understood that I could not do anything other than live only for Him.” This phrase, at the beginning of his conversion and mission, makes us understand that he has discovered the God of the living and of life. She immediately goes to orient her spirituality towards Jesus, and him in Nazareth. Although without neglecting her total trust in God, as is reflected in the prayer of her abandonment. But her main gaze is going to be directed towards Jesus, in Nazareth. That Jesus is alive, he is not an idea or an ideology, or a theology, or a mere “story” (as so much is said now). He is a lively and very present person.
For Brother Charles, one of the strong presences of that living Jesus is the Eucharist: “The Eucharist is Jesus, it is all Jesus! In the holy Eucharist, you are all whole, all living my Well-Beloved Jesus. As fully as you were in the house of the Holy Family of Nazareth … as you were in the midst of your Apostles. ” (174 Meditation on the Gospel). The expression “all living” gives us to understand that, for Brother Charles, the Eucharist prolongs the presence of the risen Jesus. At another moment he affirms, remembering and commenting on the words of Jesus at the Last Supper: “<< This is my body… this is my blood… >> Mt. 26, 26-28. This infinite grace of the Holy Eucharist, how much it must make us love such a good God, a God so close to us… How much the Holy Eucharist must make us tender, good, for all men. ” (Meditation in 1897). He also puts words on the lips of Jesus, about the Eucharist: “Contemplate me lovingly: it is the only thing necessary and it is what I love the most … If you understood the happiness that there is in being at my feet and looking at me …” (Retrait in Nazareth. November 1897). In this other reflection he is even more explicit about the permanent presence of Jesus among us: “God, to save us, has come to us, he has mixed with us in the most familiar and close contact … For the salvation of our souls, he continues to come to us, mingling with us, living with us in the closest contact, every day and every hour in the Holy Eucharist… ”(Regulations and Directory, 1909).
All these quotes on the Eucharist and Eucharistic adoration speak to us of faith of a CdF convinced of the living presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Not only that, but he understands his task, his mission, his presence among Muslims and those in need, from that living presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and in Eucharistic adoration. Without the profound experience of that Eucharistic presence, life is no longer an imitation of Nazareth, as CdF understands it. And on the positive side: contemplating and soaking up well that real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist pushes you, launches you into a personal presence in the world and among people as in Nazareth, in the style of Jesus.
The other strong presence of the risen Jesus, for Brother Charles, is the poor. There are many references to the poor in the writings of Brother Charles. I select some, of which we can intuit their faith in Jesus risen and present: “There is, I believe, no word of the Gospel that has had on my deepest impression, and has transformed my life more, than that:` Everything you do to one of these little ones, you do it to me. If we think that these words are those of the uncreated truth … With what force are we led to seek and love Jesus in these ‘little ones, these sinners, these poor people, putting all our spiritual means at the service of conversion, and all our means materials for the relief of temporary miseries ”. (Letter to Louis Massignon, April 1, 1916).
CdF does not make a theological reflection on the “presence” of the risen Jesus in the poor and the little ones, but it is evident that he has no doubt about the permanence of Jesus alive in them, and that this moves him. On the one hand, he perceives, he sees the risen Jesus in the last. On the other hand, he receives the call to bring that living Jesus closer to everyone, as can be seen from this other statement of his: “To be able to lead a very contemplative life, doing everything to everyone, to give Jesus to everyone” (June 1902, conclusion of the retirement). That is, he wants to see Jesus alive in the poor, and he wants others to see that Jesus alive, through him, through his witness.
I cannot resist recalling one of the best known Gospel texts on the presence of the risen Jesus: the disciples of Emmaus (Lk. 24, 13-34). We know the whole scene very well. I am going to stick only to the final moment, when the two pilgrims invite Jesus to stay with them, and Jesus accepts:
“And he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, when he was at the table with them, he took the bread, pronounced the blessing, broke it and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from her side. They said to each other, “Wasn’t our hearts burning within us when he spoke to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And immediately getting up, they returned to Jerusalem and found the Eleven gathered and those who were with them, saying: “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon! They, for their part, told what had happened on the way and how they had met him in the breaking of bread. (Lk. 24, 29-34)
Interestingly, it is at the end, when Jesus is no longer physically present, that he seems to be most present. And that other presence, more interior, deeper, is what gives the disciples a new impulse. First, to remember all his journey in the key of Jesus (“Didn’t our hearts burn as he spoke to us along the way and explained the scriptures to us?”). Later, to join the other disciples to tell them what happened. Pablo d’Ors says, in an approach to this scene and, specifically, to this moment, that those of Emmaus have the freedom to interpret what has happened to them. And think and confirm what has happened to them. This is faith: not an imposition but a proposition, because it respects our freedom.
In a free reading of the life of CdF, in the light of this gospel of the disciples of Emmaus, we could say that, when CdF was, apparently, “back” from everything, the living God comes out to meet him to tell him to continue standing there in the midst of disappointments and falls. That living God had already made himself present, in some way, in the strong religious experience of the Muslims. The God of the living and of life uses different moments and people to meet us and become a companion on the journey. But it is in that church, in that conversation and confession with Father Huvelín, which was followed by the reception of the Body of Christ, when brother Charles “eyes were opened” and he was able to re-read his life from faith. We cannot stop listening, once again, to his memory of that moment when he was converted, that is to say, when he discovered new eyes: “As soon as I believed that there was a God, I understood that I could do nothing but live for him. My religious vocation dates from the same time as my faith. God is so great! There is so much difference between God and everything that he is not ”. His path, from that moment on, we know him.
The living God that he sees and senses in that initial moment, will shortly guide him and incarnate him in Jesus of Nazareth, and Jesus in Nazareth. We could say that his Emmaus throws him to Nazareth. His experience of his living translates her to everyday life, to the hidden life, to the simple and normal life. And as we have remembered in the first part of this presentation, you are going to keep this Jesus alive in the Eucharist and in the poor very much in mind.
For us too, as for CdF, this Easter can be an occasion to rediscover our “Emmaus in Nazareth”. In other words, the risen Jesus continues to be present in our daily lives and in the simple lives of the people we usually meet. In the simplicity of day to day, and in the simple and poor of each day, we can sense the gentle presence of the risen one. Or we can be ourselves, in our Nazareth, a simple instrument of the risen Jesus to make himself present and bring his new life closer to others.
Possible questions for personal reflection:
1. At what moments in my priestly life, perhaps of disappointment or pastoral disappointment, have I noticed the gentle presence of the risen Jesus?
2. How do I perceive the risen Jesus in everyday life, in my usual Nazareth? How can others perceive it through me?
3. Of all that I know of the life and spirituality of CdF, what stands out to me the most in relation to the risen one?
(Translator’s note: thank you for your understanding and compassion)