Christus resurrexit! Alleluia!
Christ is risen. Alleluia! So goes the exclamation. There is a reason to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ even though it is difficult to see how Christ could have risen. They key is to eye witnesses.
1.) Empty tomb
2.) Soldiers guarding the tomb
3.) Jesus appeared in the flesh to the apostles
4.) The apostles suffered and died professing faith in the risen Lord
5.) The relics of the apostles exist, and they had successors
The fact that the tomb was empty, regardless if a heavy stone blocked the only way in and out was there. Nobody could have stolen the body especially since the Roman soldiers, bribed by the chief priests to guard the tomb and fabricate the lie of the disciples stealing the body, guarded the tomb day and night.
It could not have been a ghost or an illusion, because all those who saw Jesus looked in the same direction and saw a man who ate and drank with them for forty days before ascending to His Father in Heaven. According to Saint Paul. “he was seen by more than five hundred brethren at once” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:6). Illusions pertain to the individuals distortion of vision; so an illusion could not have been in the same place for the hundreds to witnessed Jesus’ Resurrection. Ghosts on the other hand do not have flesh.
The apostles could not have faked the Resurrection. It’s hard to keep a large number of people from telling the same exact lie, for so long and so consistently harmonious for another’s version (compare the four Gospel accounts on the Resurrection), not to mention it being hard to conceive the thought that those who taught so ardently against lying would lie, especially to profit from that lie when they knew there would be no money in it (and there was virtually none — especially considering Jesus’ exhortation to go from town to town without a money bag), not to mention severe persecution and martyrdom. They would have eventually cracked under pressure and told their persecutors they made it all up. Saint Paul says, “If the dead are not raised at all, then … why are we endangering ourselves all the time” (1 Corinthians 15:30).
The reported relics of all original eleven apostles (not including Judas Iscariot) are in various churches from Rome to Jerusalem and Antioch. Obviously these witnesses of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection existed and were not fabricated hundreds of years later. Let’s not forget the Church Fathers, namely the Apostolic Fathers: those who lived in the first two centuries of Christian history. Saints Polycarp and Ignatius of Antioch for example were students of the apostles. They themselves quoted Scripture in their own documents, thus attesting to the antiquity of Scripture. They had their own successors, so on and so forth, to this day: this is apostolic succession which is extremely important in the Catholic Church. That means that the Church today is the same Church founded by Jesus Christ “upon the foundation of the apostles” (cf. Ephesians 2:20), in “the breaking of the bread and the prayers” (cf. Acts 2:42).
So what about science? Any good scientist will tell you we don’t have the answer to everything. Science does not have all the answers. Not to mention science comes from the Latin word ‘knowledge’ as in our knowledge of how things work and our knowledge is limited. Let’s not forget there are different kinds of science: natural science, biology, chemistry, astronomy, physics, anatomy, and yes… theology! Saint Thomas Aquinas even called theology a science. Theology is the science that helps us understand the Resurrection where the other sciences cannot.
Many claim if you can’t see something, then it doesn’t exist; but then the problem is most of us haven’t seen a million dollars; nor has anyone we know seen aliens. Then others say it contradicts science, but again science is full of surprises. The laws of nature are general rules but do not necessarily always apply in every circumstance due to various conditions. It is generally accepted that the scientific method is what determines the scientific truth of something, but to do that you need to personally witness it, but you cannot analyze the Resurrection since it happened almost 2000 years ago, hence we rely on the witness of the apostles. While, I’m not saying the Resurrection was merely natural (as it was supernatural), the sciences can tie together and help us better understand the Resurrection.
Again, think of this for this Easter season. We have a Church because the risen Lord founded it. He founded specifically after His Resurrection and before His Ascension into Heaven. Without the Resurrection there would be no Church as there would be no Jesus to found it. The Church witnesses to the truth of Christ’s Resurrection in her mere existence: her first preachers witnessed His Resurrection and Ascension, then their successors did the same and all the way to this day. The Church is His mystical body in the sacramental union through the Eucharist which has its origins in the Crucifixion. We the Church are the living Christ on Earth. Happy Easter!