By Elvis, sx.
The Resurrection of Christ, celebrated on Easter Sunday and the following days, is the biggest feast for Christians, bigger even than Christmas. With the Resurrection of Christ, our lives as his followers took on a new perspective that nothing can turn around. The stone has been rolled away once for all. We can now even “tease” death as St Paul did: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1Cor. 15, 55). Through his Resurrection, Jesus wrote a new chapter in the history of humanity and thus he brought forth the victory of life over death, truth over lies, justice over injustice, love over hatred, joy over sadness, etc.
In reality, what is Easter for us and how can this event which happened more than two thousand years ago still make sense for us in our daily lives?
Resurrection is and will always be a matter of faith. It is through God’s grace that we come to believe in it. The empty tomb itself does not stand as a sufficient proof for it. It is only a corroborative proof, meaning that it only supports our faith by providing more information about the Resurrection. In fact, without our faith, we cannot come to understand this mystery. From this starting point, we can now look at some meanings of this great mystery.
- The Resurrection of Christ proves the Gospel and the whole Christian message to be true.
St Paul in his letter to the Corinthians explains very well how without this Resurrection, all the Christian message falls apart. In fact, it depends on it for the sake of its credibility.
“ And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins, Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are all people most to be pitied.” (1 Cor. 15: 14; 17-19).
Paul makes clear that Resurrection is the fundamental part of the Gospel and at the same time, it gives us hope that our faith is not in vain because indeed, Christ is truly risen.
- Resurrection gives us certainty that we also will be raised like him.
St Paul again in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:20) describes the Risen Jesus as the firstfruits of the Resurrection from the dead. This is a good news for us mortal human beings that from that time on, our bodies are not merely for corruption after our death, but that as our master rose from the dead, we too will rise like him. By his Resurrection, he opened the gates of eternal life to all of us. He cleared the path for us: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
- The Resurrection of Christ gives us a living hope.
Filipino wisely say that “pag may buhay, may pag-asa” meaning that where there is life, there is always hope. If through this mystery we have new life, it means that we have more reasons for new hope. The resurrection of Christ does not mean that suffering, sin injustices, etc. are now taken away from our lives; instead, it means that now we have more reasons to stand all of this. We now look at our past, present and future with new lens: lens of hope. Concretely, this means that we hope and believe that suffering, death and other difficulties in our lives don’t have the last word but Jesus do. We may be suffering right now or experiencing trials, but, let us not lose hope because we have an advocate who went through all the trials except sin and who in the end won over all of them for our sake. “According to his great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading kept in heaven for you.” (1Peter 1: 3-4)
Moreover, the Resurrection of Christ does not remove the cross, on the contrary, it gives to the cross a new meaning. In fact, there is no Resurrection without the passion and death of Christ. Similarly, there is no Easter without Good Friday. We should never fool ourselves by dreaming of a life without suffering on the ground of our being Christians meaning followers of the Risen Christ. In the same perspective, if we face the cross without the Resurrection, Christianity and even our sufferings become a scandal and an outrage.
- The Resurrection of Christ is a challenge to all of us his followers.
If we are to be true to our identity, this great mystery of the Resurrection has to make a difference in our daily lives. Do we live as people of the Resurrection or as people of Good Friday? One of the great gifts of Easter is peace. Many times Jesus repeated this word to his disciples in his various appearances to them: “Peace be with you” (John 20:21). Jesus knew that his disciples were troubled and without peace of mind. Are we people of peace or we go around creating troubles? Resurrection invites us to be calmer, peaceful and peacemakers.
Another gift is joy. In his Encyclical Letter Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis is inviting us not to look as people who has just come back from a funeral (EG, 10), but to be missionaries of Joy. We are happy of this new life acquired through the Resurrection of Christ and this joy has to be lived out and shared with others in our daily lives. Moreover, the Resurrection brings courage to go forth and proclaim the Good News without fear. If one reads carefully the episodes of the disciples of Emmaus (Lk 24: 13-35) and the Acts of the Apostles, it is noticeable that the disciples shifted from a state of fear to a bold “going forth” to proclaim the Good News. After they met the Risen Christ nothing can no longer stop them. In fact, according to their own words, they could not stop giving witness to what their eyes have seen and their ears heard. (Acts 4:20)
In conclusion, the Resurrection set a new chapter and turning point in the history of humanity. However, it might look as a fairy tale if, we Christians do not become people and witnesses of the Resurrection, meaning people who are able to live out the “Resurrection story” in their daily lives. We are called to be life-giving people especially throughout this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Mercy means forgiving our brothers and sisters, thus giving them a chance to a new life. Literally, whenever you forgive your brother or sister, you both “resurrect”. May the spirit of Easter be ever with us!