Thoughts on Easter

Christian faith teaches that Christ suffered, was crucified, died and on the third day he rose again from the dead. The resurrection of Christ is an intrinsic tenet and the foundation of the Catholic Faith. However His conquest of sin and death may be seen in different ways.

First, by his resurrection, Christ conquered death and forever established his kingship over all creation. He has proven that he is an all-powerful God that even death itself has no power over him; a God who has no beginning and no end; the alpha and omega. Christ’s resurrection also means that the Christian God is a living God; one who was, is and will be part of human history from the beginning until the end. The true follower of Christ therefore sees that every event in his life does not happen by chance but is willed by Him; hence, he (follower) will not be overcome by despair and hopelessness for to him God is always present, ready to come to his succor.  

This is why Pope Francis in his Easter message urged the faithful to accomplish the power of the Resurrection in “every age, in our concrete existence, in our everyday lives. How many deserts, even today, do human beings need to cross!” Above all, according to the good pope, “the desert within, when we have no love for God or neighbor, when we fail to realize that we are guardians of all that the Creator has given us and continues to give us.” But in the end, we are given the hope that God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones.

Second, the great apostle, Peter, “praises God for he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” By Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection we have become heirs of God’s kingdom. It is an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and most of all everlasting. A Christian therefore sees hope where there is none. Even in the midst of suffering and difficulties such as persecution, hunger, nakedness – there is still reason to rejoice because God’s love has already conquered death; that in the end of this earthly life the Christian will be allowed to reclaim his just reward, that is, everlasting life. In this sense, Christianity is a joyful religion, full of hope and expectation. For a Christian adversity is not a useless experience contrived by God to punish him; instead it is God’s way of leading him towards salvation.

Finally. Christ’s resurrection is transformative.  Pope Francis in his Easter homily explains how belief and acceptance in Christ’s resurrection can change the life of a person, events and conditions. He said: “So this is the invitation which I address to everyone: Let us accept the grace of Christ’s Resurrection! Let us be renewed by God’s mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.”

In his masterpiece Jesus of Nazareth (Volume 2), Pope Benedict XVI ends his meditation on the resurrection by returning to the ending of Luke’s Gospel where Jesus led his followers into the vicinity of Bethany. According to Luke, “Lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven” (24:50-51). Pope Benedict comments that Jesus departs in the act of blessing: “He goes while blessing, and he remains in that gesture of blessing. His hands remain stretched out over this world. The blessing hands of Christ are like a roof that protects us. But at the same time, they are a gesture of opening up, tearing the world open so that heaven may enter in, may become “present” within it. The gesture of hands outstretched in blessing expresses Jesus’ continuing relationship to his disciples, to the world. In departing, he comes to us, in order to raise us up above ourselves and to open up the world to God. That is why the disciples could return home from Bethany rejoicing. In faith we know that Jesus holds his hands stretched out in blessing over us. That is the lasting motive of Christian joy.

For this reason, in the Easter Vigil of the Neocatechumenal Way which my wife and I follow, we sing this song: “Exult choirs of angels, exult heavenly assembly, with a hymn of glory, greet the triumph of The Lord. Rejoice all the Earth, flooded with the new light. The splendor of the King has conquered darkness, the darkness of the world. This is the night in which you have conquered the darkness of sin. This is the night in which Christ has destroyed death, and from the dead He rises victorious.”

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