Sunday, April 11, 2021

Child's Play Christianity

Propers for Low Sunday

Sermon for Low Sunday

Have you ever tried to explain the Resurrection to a three year old?

"Jesus was dead but now He is alive again!"

It rather jars, doesn't it? It sounds utterly ridiculous. We dress it up in fancy language and deep philosophical concepts but, when you strip away the complexity, you are faced with the simple truth.

"Jesus was dead but now He is alive again!"

It's almost obscene in its simplicity. Obscene because every day we are surrounded by terrible, horrible deaths. Last week, a two week old baby died when a car hit her pram. To that family in their grief, can we honestly say, "Jesus was dead and now He is alive again!"?


Obviously, there are ways of bearing witness to the truth of the Resurrection that are sensitive to the situation. With so much pain and grief in the world, we cannot allow that grief to be ignored in the slightest. The pains of death and grief are real. They matter so much and they cannot be dismissed by a simple child's statement of the truth.

Surely this is because children shouldn't know what grief is. 

"Jesus was dead but now He is alive again!"

And the grieving parent says, "why not my baby?"


The Lord's Resurrection stands against the backdrop of grief. The Crucifixion stands for all our pain and suffering. Our Lady sees her baby on the cross, although he is a grown man. And we Christians bear witness to this testimony that Jesus underwent a sham trial based on trumped-up charges was nailed to the cross and died there. He died just like we die whether we be two weeks old or two thousand weeks old. 

But His death is unlike any other: He sanctifies death. He makes it a door of hope. He doesn't take away the pain and grief. We have to bear those because they are proof of love. Our pain and grief prove to us that we are not robots or devoid of feeling. Our pain and grief prove that things should be different. They prove that our lives have meaning. They can only have meaning if God loves us in the first place.

But we have to bear our grief which is utterly inexpressible because it is so personal. The nearest we can get to the truth is "Jesus was dead but now He is alive again." Its simplicity is scandalous, not  because it takes away the grief and pain of death and the utterly unique circumstances of Resurrection. It is scandalous because it lies underneath our pain and sorrow and doubt and fear. It is a simple expression of hope which, if we accept it, will cause us pain and sorrow and doubt and fear because we dare to believe in something beyond our experience of earthly life which is subject to the grim spectre of Death.

What stops it from being blind and empty hope is that it is pure fact.

Jesus WAS dead but now He IS alive again.

These are historical facts. Our hope, our painful, sorrowful, doubtful, fearful hope, is based on facts so simple a child could understand it. 

It does not take putting our hands into the wounds of Christ to convince us of this. It is we who are wounded and broken by our love for others. It is Christ Who puts His hands into our wounds, Who reaches into our broken hearts and tells us the truth.


Our children are just as vulnerable to death as we are but the promise of Resurrection applies just as much to them as to us. They are victims of our sins even if they have never committed a sin, themselves. The Christian hope is based on two facts: that in the cross we find our deaths; that in the Resurrection we will find our life again unsullied by sin and Eternally bathed in God's love for each and every one of us, big or small, young or old.


How do you explain Christianity to a three year-old? The same way you explain it to yourself: Jesus was dead but now He is alive again.

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