The Nebraska Catholic Conference intentionally chose “Bearing the Light of Christ in the public square” as our vision statement. These nine words capture our daily work, which is sustained by the daily Bread which is Christ Jesus.
As we near Easter, the words “Light of Christ” take on a particular force for each of us. They remind us that Christ is the Light of world through Whom nothing in this world will be left hidden in the dark and through Whom all things will be revealed.
That we profess that Christ is the Light of the world is no small thing. It is a radical claim, and it stands at the core of the Christian message. In fact, it stands at the very core of reality, whether one is willing to accept this fact or not.
Easter presents us with another indispensable fact about history. This fact is that Christ is risen from the dead. As Pope Benedict XVI states in volume two of Jesus of Nazareth: “The Christian faith stands or falls with the truth of the testimony that Christ is risen from the dead.”
“If [the Resurrection] were taken away,” Pope Benedict continues, “it would still be possible to piece together from the Christian tradition a series of interesting ideas about God and men, about man’s being and his obligations, a kind of religious world view: but the Christian faith itself would be dead.”
As the learned Pope further writes: “Jesus would be a failed religious leader, who despite his failure remains great and can cause us to reflect. But he would then remain purely human, and his authority would extend only so far as his message is of interest to us. He would no longer be the criterion: the only criterion left would be our own judgment in selecting from his heritage what strikes us as helpful. In other words, we would be alone. Our own judgment would be the highest instance.”
Pope Benedict’s stark reflection on Christ can leave us is in near despair, but this reflection reminds us what is at stake in the Christian claim about the Resurrection. If Christ’s Resurrection is false, the world is left empty. But, as we believe, this claim is true. Indeed, there can be no truer claim that we could profess with our lips and heart. In other words, the Resurrection “changes the world” and “the situation of mankind.”
It is the Resurrection of Christ Who is the Light of the World which drives our work at the Nebraska Catholic Conference. Undoubtedly politics is a small dimension of the human experience. As such, the Resurrection has a meaning far beyond politics. Nevertheless, the Resurrection should drive our political engagement. The message that Christ is Risen, which unearths the cosmic Alleluia of all creation, brings life to the policy ideas we advance for the sake of the common good.
In the moments where we want to shrink and shirk from our duties in the political sphere—much like the Rich Young Man who was unwilling to part with his fortunes to follow Christ—we can stop and consider the Resurrection. That Christ is Risen can provide the courage we need to proclaim His saving message, a message which reaches into the nooks and crannies of our life including all that belongs to politics.
With the Resurrection, we can offer the world a new criterion—a standard for judging the goodness, truth, and beauty of public policy proposals. This criterion—which is Jesus Christ and His life and witness—we can confidently engage in the fight for justice, whether it is on behalf of the poor, the unborn and their mothers, families without school choice, the immigrant, marriage and the family, or any other number of issues close to our hearts as Catholics.
Know of our prayers for you this Easter season. We pray especially that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). Continue to keep us in your prayers!