Alleluia! He is Risen!

04-21-2019Weekly ReflectionFather Prince Raja

We cannot live Easter without entering into the mystery. It is not something intellectual, something we only know or read about… It is more, much more! "To enter into the mystery" means the ability to wonder, to contemplate; the ability to listen to the silence and to hear the tiny whisper amid great silence by which God speaks to us ( 1 Kings 19:12).

To enter into the mystery demands that we not be afraid of reality: that we not be locked into ourselves, that we not flee from what we fail to understand, that we not close our eyes to problems or deny them, that we not dismiss our questions… (HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS) "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain". Saint Paul, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, reminds us so clearly that the Resurrection of Jesus is the central point of our faith. We celebrate our faith in new life in this Easter Vigil and Sunday, as we prepare to initiate adults into the sacraments of Baptism and confirmation. Thanks to our Deacon for the preparation of the candidates in this Easter Sunday.

As we celebrate Easter, each of us must ask ourselves, is the resurrection really the central focus of our own faith? What do we understand by 'resurrection'? Resurrection is not easy to understand. You will recall the Gospel narrative of the Transfiguration. Jesus for an instant appeared not in his earthly form but in a different way, surrounded by symbols of biblical history, in conversation with God the Father and in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The disciples who were with him were stunned by that experience and clearly could not fully understand it. You can imagine the urge they had to tell the other disciples something of what they had witnessed, but Jesus tells them not to speak of this event until after he had "risen from the dead". But they were even more confused and asked what Jesus could have possibly meant when he spoke of "rising from the dead". Resurrection is not easy for us humans to understand.

Resurrection baffles human understanding. Jesus's references to his resurrection were consistently misunderstood by both his disciples and his enemies. Many thought that he was speaking about a destruction of the Temple which he was claiming he would restore after three days, something which was absurd and was easily exploited by his accusers to claim that he was a blasphemer or an imposter or false prophet.

The resurrection of Jesus is something different from other examples of people who had been called from the dead, such as Lazarus or the daughter of Jairos. They returned to life as their life had originally been and eventually died definitively. Jesus did not rise to the same way of life. His appearances show that the life he attained after the resurrection was something different. Jesus' resurrection was rising into a new life, no longer subject to death.

The resurrection is impossible to understand in our human categories, precisely because it radically changes human categories and changes human history. Resurrection is not simply something that happened to Jesus at a single moment in history. Resurrection changes history and opens a new future for all humanity. Even those disciples who had encountered the Risen Lord needed time to come to a full understanding of this new reality. The mystery of Christ's death which we have celebrated in these days is also one which defies our human categories. How can the Son of God die? How can the God of goodness and of love and of life be revealed through a Jesus who allows himself to be handed into hands of the powers of darkness so that he would die the death of a criminal. The death of Jesus shows how the power of love can conquer even the deepest darkness. The resurrection changes human history and it changes all our understating of who Jesus is. Had Jesus remained dead, we would be talking – to use the phrase of Pope Benedict – about a Jesus who was, but our faith is in a Jesus who is. Christ is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed! Alleluia! Happy Easter.