Even in this Easter season, there are those who would nervously employ the secular convention of saying that they want Christ but not his Church, and that they can confess their sins to God without confessing to a priest. This ignores what Jesus did when he rose from the dead: he constructed the Church through his teaching during the forty days before the Ascension, and the first thing he did when he appeared to the apostles was to give them authority to forgive sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Saint John wrote that not all the books in the world could contain what Christ did in those forty days, but the Gospel accounts tell all that he wants us to know. The power of what he taught the apostles in that brief time, with the wounds still in his body, is clear in the fact that all of them, save John himself, died brave deaths proclaiming the Resurrection.
Such dying, predicted by Christ, has perdured through all subsequent ages in one way or another. Last week, Pope Francis marked the one hundredth anniversary of the massacre of about 1.5 million Armenian Christians by the Turks, abetted by Imperial German staff officers serving with the Ottoman Empire. The Pope said that “it is necessary, and indeed a duty” to “recall the centenary of that tragic event . . . Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.” The greatest number of killings occurred on appalling death marches of hundreds of miles where the Turks drove women, children and old people (most of the young men had already been massacred) into the Syrian desert. There was no food or water given to the victims along the way—and this was done by design.
Saint Paul, converted by the risen Christ, had evangelized his Turkish homeland. Despite centuries of persecution by Muslims, in 1914 some 15% of the Turkish population was Christian. Today the Christian community is practically non-existent. Persisting in its denial of the persecution, the Turkish government condemned the honesty of Pope Francis by withdrawing its ambassador to the Holy See. That exercise in denial was not singular. In 2010, a declaration was introduced in the House of Representatives calling the systematic eradication of the Armenians a genocide. The Obama administration blocked it.
The mentality that denies the Resurrection, also denies the consequences of such denial. The Resurrection is not about spring flowers and butterflies, and Jesus made that clear by retaining the wounds in his glorified body. Christ triumphed over Satan, and to deny that is to give Satan a leg up in the governance of nations and the attitudes of people. The dominant religion of Turkey maintains that Jesus was not crucified. If not crucified, then not risen. And if not risen, then mankind has license to sink to its lowest depths by crushing life and spreading death.
– Father George William Rutler