Allocutio at April 2017 Concilium Meeting by Fr. Bede McGregor OP
The Presence of the Risen Christ
The Resurrection of Christ is the central truth of our Christian faith. St. Paul makes it abundantly clear when he writes: ‘If Christ has not been risen, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ. (1 Cor. 15:14). The Christian faith stands or falls on the truth of the fact of the Resurrection. Pope Benedict puts it very succinctly too when he writes: ‘To this extent, in our quest for the figure of Jesus, the Resurrection is the crucial point. Whether Jesus merely was or whether he also is – this depends on the Resurrection. In answering yes or no to this question, we are taking a stand not simply on one event among others, but on the figure of Jesus as such.’
So we Christians do not say only that Christ rose from the dead but almost emphatically, Christ is Risen. We speak of Christ always in the present tense. The primary characteristic of Jesus is that he is alive and active with us and in us and for us. But where is he to be found? Or where can we really and truly and always meet the Risen Christ? Well first of all we meet him in the Church, his Mystical Body. Christ and the Church are one. The Church does not exist apart from the Risen Christ: we are his Body organically united to him. This is the fundamental reason why the Legion Handbook, and hopefully, the very life of the Legion give so much time and space to the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ. The Legion loves and serves the Church above all because she is not simply an organisation or institution; she is the presence of the Risen Christ. The Church is not just something but is primarily Someone. She is the person and presence of the Risen Lord.
From its very first meeting the Legion has given pride of place to the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ. In support of this claim let me quote from the Handbook: ‘At the very first meeting of legionaries the supernatural character of the service, which they were undertaking was stressed. Their approach to others was to be brimful of kindness, but their motive was not to be that merely natural one. In all those whom they served they were to see the person of Jesus Christ Himself. What they did to those others – even the weakest and the lowest - they were to remember that they did it to Our Lord Himself… At the first meeting, so ever since, no effort has been spared to bring home to legionaries that this motive is to be the basis of service, and likewise that the discipline and the internal harmony of the Legion rest chiefly upon the same principle. In their officers and in each other they must recognise and reverence Christ Himself.’
Of course we meet the Risen Christ and express our faith in the truth of the Resurrection in the Eucharist. Here we have the Sacrament of God’s invitation to intimacy with Jesus in his body, soul and divinity. Indeed we meet him in all the Sacraments and especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we meet the tenderness of the forgiving Christ. It is also a great blessing for the sick and dying to have the support of the Risen Christ in all their illnesses and on the final stage of their journey in this life. It should be easy to see why the apostolate of bringing people to the Sacraments is such a privileged apostolate of the Legion since it means bringing people to a direct and saving meeting with the Risen Christ Himself. It would be a real tragedy if any praesidium anywhere in the world were to neglect this apostolate.
We also meet Him in the sacrament of the Sacred Scriptures. Indeed, wherever two or three are gathered in his Name he is there in their midst. This is true of all our Legion meetings too. In a certain sense, the Risen Lord is omnipotent since he is no longer bound by the limits of time and space. His last words on earth according to St. Matthew are: ‘And remember, I am with you always; yes even to the end of time.’ So, the Resurrection means that the risen Lord will never leave our side. He is present as the Good Shepherd to guide and guard
us in all the vicissitudes of life, in good times and tough times right to the end and indeed for the last bit of the journey through death and then into the presence of the Father
Finally, let me say a sentence or two about Mary and the Easter season. St. John Paul points out that Mary was the first tabernacle of the real presence of Our Lord on earth. Her God-given mission is to give Jesus to each one of us and the whole world. She is the Mother of the Risen Christ and his Mystical Body. Let us ask Mary for help to deepen our faith in the Resurrection of her Son and the
courage to spread this supreme good news to others.