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Christ is Risen

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Not long ago, I ran across this comment from a distinguished American scholar of ancient history commenting on the proclamation of the resurrection. He said, ‘if an educated Greek or Roman would have been told that someone had been raised from the dead, his first question would have been: “How do you get him back into his grave again?” Most of those who first heard the Easter gospel would have found it scary, frightening especially the Jews and the Greeks at that time. For them though, if the dead survived, they live in their own world – a shadowy place where they are condemned to a sort of half-life of yearning and sadness.

Each of the gospel writers describes how, on Easter Sunday, the disciples made their discovery that Jesus had risen from the dead: how the two Mary’s had gone to the tomb to embalm the body, but instead, they were met by an angel, “whose face was like lightning and his clothing white as snow” (Mt 28:3), who told them He had risen as He had promised.

Jesus appeared first to Mary, later on the first Easter Sunday to Simon Peter, then to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, then to apostles who were still in the upper room where Jesus had celebrated the Last Supper and later to many others.

To believe in the resurrection is to believe that nothing is impossible for God. It is not just to believe in resurrected bodies at the end of time but to believe that no grave can hold us on either side of eternity. Through Jesus’ resurrection he opens for us the way to eternal life. It is a new world in which one enters with faith accompanied by wonder and joy.

It is not only a great miracle nor simply a happy ending to a sad story. It is the beginning of a new story, a new life.

We might think of those who die alone like the elderly with no relatives around, forgotten by their family. But the gospel of resurrection tells us they are not forgotten by God and that their lives are in his hand.

I remember a story about a three-year-old girl. She was the first-born and only child in her family but now her mother was pregnant again and the little girl was very excited about having a new brother or sister. Within a few hours of the parents bringing a new baby boy home from the hospital the girl made a request. She wanted to be alone with her new brother in his room with door shut. Her insistence about being alone with the baby the door shut made her parents a bit uneasy but then they remembered that they had installed an intercom system in anticipation of the baby’s arrival, so they realized they could let their daughter do this and if they heard the slightest indication that anything strange was happening they could be in the baby’s room in an instant. They let the little girl go into the baby’s room and raced to the intercom listening station. They heard their daughter’s footsteps moving across the baby’s room, imagined her standing over the baby’s crib, and then they heard her saying to a newborn baby`: “Tell me about God – I’ve almost forgotten” .

It tells us that we come from God but along the process of growing up, of learning many things about the world, we forget the one from whom we came. We become more and more shaped by the consequences of our original sin – our selfishness, greed, egoism or self-centeredness. That is why we need to start anew, to be born again, to have new life. This is our life of reconnection with God and the ‘power of the resurrection.’

Finally, I’d like to quote Dante Alighieri’s passage in his Divine Comedy which describes very clearly our essence in this world, our call in life:

“Christians be serious in taking action. Do not be like a feather to every wind. Nor think that every water cleanses you; You have the New and the Old Testament and the Shepherd of the Church to guide you. Let this be all you need for our salvation. Be men, do not be senseless sheep.

mon text with italics and bold and John 3:16 and v. 20.

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