|01-08-2007 - Traces, n. 8
Where is the Evidence?
First, there is the absolute impossibility of extinguishing in us the desire for happiness. Second is the reality of a friendship that is never extinguished. Finally, there is the Love offered to us by a Presence not sought by us, but a Love that precedes our very existence
By Lorenzo Albacete
Ever since Easter, I have been thinking of the question asked of me by a young man in California a few years ago. When I attempted to tell him what our faith in the Resurrection of Christ entailed, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “If what you say is true, then everything changes. I am on another planet.” Then he asked anxiously, “But where is the evidence?”
I realized the question of evidence could not be addressed until we first determine what kind of evidence would be acceptable. What evidence could possibly correspond to such an event? It is immediately clear that it could not be some kind of “interior” or “spiritual” experience. The young man understood clearly that only something external to us would do, something objective, something in this world that clearly does not originate in this world. He didn’t say that if the Resurrection was true he would have changed, that he would see things differently. He said that “everything” changes. Indeed, in saying that, he pointed to the trees, to the clouds, to a passing bus, to a greasy diner across the street... If the Resurrection is true, he realized, all those things are somehow not the same reality they are now. They belong to “another planet,” he said. They may look the same, but there is something objectively different about them. They carry an amazing secret within them, a secret from another world. I might look at them in a different way, but not because I changed first. Rather, they changed first, so to speak.
It is fascinating to pursue this line of thinking in search of some evidence of the Resurrection. I believe, in the end, we will discover that the evidence of the Resurrection is found when we have no choice but to arrive at the judgment that God is Love (Deus Caritas Est), based on an objective fruit of that Love.
Recently, I was reading the new book by Fr. Giussani, Certi di alcune grandi cose [Certain of a Few Great Things], just published in Italian. It is a compilation of things he said from 1979 to 1981. I believe that what he said to the CLU during an assembly back in 1979 places us on the path to follow, in order to discover the objective presence in this world of that way of life belonging to that “other world” found in this world as fruit of the Resurrection of Christ.
Fr. Giussani points to three verifiable experiences. First, there is the absolute impossibility of extinguishing in us the desire for happiness. No matter what happens, no matter how many times we confirm again and again that the happiness that we seek is simply impossible in this world, the desire for it rises from our hearts with the strength and vigor of the first time. Indeed, the very attempt to extinguish it is evidence of its reality. This “hope that does not disappoint” is a pointer to the reality of the Resurrection.
Second is the reality of a friendship that is never extinguished, no matter how many times or for how long we betray it or move away from it. When we seek it again, it is there with the freshness and power of the first day we encountered it. And this is made real through the friendship of imperfect, weak, and fragile people! Wherever we encounter this friendship, we encounter the Risen One.
Finally, there is the Love offered to us by a Presence not sought by us, not offered to us because we are lovable, but a Love that precedes our very existence–indeed, that sustains it no matter what happens, so that when betrayed by us it is experienced as absolute, unconditional mercy. It is not a mercy that ignores our betrayals, but rather that makes of them the very first instruments of its revelation. Where this mercy is objectively encountered, there is the Risen One.