The Resurrection and the Life

by Elias Blum

I’ll call him Jan, although that’s not his real name. Jan is from Poland. He’d gone to work in Spain in the boom years, when unskilled jobs were plentiful. When the economy fell apart, he was stuck: no job, no money, no way to get home. No home to speak of anyway. No friends, no contacts, no papers, no keys, no hope. He was sleeping in a Barcelona backstreet. Nobody knows the full story. Large sections of the narrative are lost to memory.

When I met Jan he shook my had vigorously and said ‘Merry Christmas’ in Polish. Jan was now living with the Community of the Lamb (a Catholic congregation, associated with the Dominican order) at their friary in the south of France. He had been invited there by Brother Marco, who had encountered him while doing a service mission amongst the destitute in Spain. Marco literally rescued Jan from death on the streets. The two had become firm friends. The Community had become Jan’s new home. He helped out in the kitchens and the gardens, generally making himself useful, learning new skills, loving and being loved. He was sober for the first time in his adult life.

But there was a problem. The working language of the Community is French, and Jan didn’t speak it. There were a few Polish Brothers and Sisters who could translate, but he was utterly dependent upon them. That’s were my mother-in-law steps into the story. She’s a retired language teacher, with beautiful, flawless French, and a regular communicant at the Community of the Lamb. My mother-in-law agreed to give Jan French lessons.

Progress was made. The next time I saw Jan, several months later, he said, in French, “Hello, my name is Jan, and Marco is my friend”. The words were simple enough, but they represented something profound: Jan’s new life, new hope, new purpose.

This is the Resurrection and the Life: destitute rescued, brokenhearted bound-up, captives set free, prisoners released, chains broken, debts cancelled.

Resurrection, as I understand it, is not a unique cosmic conjuring trick that happened in Palestine two thousand years ago. It’s a continuous, incremental process, unfolding before us even today, occurring wherever the light of the Spirit shines, and made manifest wherever love is shown, grace extended, peace made, and community established.

I know it is true because I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve met Jan and Marco, and many others like them.

And the chances are, Jan will be the next Marco. Resurrection is contagious.