The Feast of Resurrection is the feast of feasts for the Christian Church. The resurrection of Jesus marks a complete turnaround in history. History became ‘His Story’. This is the feast of the victory of Truth over falsehood. This is the day of reunion for the dispersed disciples on account of the terror of the death of their Leader. This great fest marks the beginning of new hope for entire humanity. This is the feast of the resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. A few thoughts on this glorious feast:
1. Resurrection: The Feast of ultimate triumph of the truth
The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the ultimate triumph of the truth. While questioning Jesus, Pontius Pilate asked Him, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). But Jesus kept quiet. It was not the opportune time to answer this vexed question. The intention behind the incarnation of Jesus was described by him in this manner: “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth” (John 18:37). The real aim of the coming of Jesus to this world who gave up his life for the cause of Truth was neither understood by the High Priests of Jewish community, nor the high officials of the Roman Empire. They crucified the Truth and the Untruth had a temporary victory over the Truth.
However, through His Resurrection the Truth was reborn. Those who believed the words of Jesus, and those who put their faith in Him whole-heartedly and those who followed Him suffered lot of pains at His passion and death. The challenging question before them was, “Is Jesus a reality or a myth?” Those who mocked him challenged him to come down from the cross. When falsehood celebrates temporal victory the believers are even challenged to raise the question of Jesus’ mockers. It takes Truth sometime to triumph. The truth only triumphs ultimately and this was proved through His resurrection. The Truth which died on the cross on Friday was raised again on Sunday.
The age old tradition of Indian hermits, who chants “lead us from untruth to Truth”, came to pass in the resurrection of Jesus. This proved that the triumph of untruth was just temporary. The resurrection of Jesus thus opened the way of hope for those who bear witness to truth. His victory inspires those who are allegedly persecuted or tortured for bearing witness to truth. The Apostles and martyrs stood by truth to point of death and set the tradition of witnessing Jesus to the contemporary society. Let Easter be a motivation to stand for the truth.
2. Resurrection: The Dawn of new hope of Immortality
The desire to be free from the clutches of death is as old as human origin. The ancient Sanskrit chanting of the Indian sages “let us lead from death to immortality” also reflects the same desire. But how this could be achieved? Death reigns in humanity through sin of one human being, Adam. From Adam till Christ death got victory over the body of early human beings. But through Christ humanity got a new birth. St. Paul says, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being (1 Corinthians 15:20- 21). The death which entered humanity through Adam was replaced with life through the resurrection of Second Adam, Christ.
Thus the feast of resurrection proclaims a new horizon for humanity, the resurrection. The humanity lives in the hope of future resurrection. St. Paul aptly summarizes this hope as he says, “So all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ” (15:23). Humanity now has the hope of sharing the glorified body like Christ’s which He had after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:47-49). It was Christ’s resurrection which gave such hope to mankind that our decaying body will be transformed into the glorified body like Christ’s (Philippians 3:21).
The relationship between Jesus and believers became more intense and personal through the sacramental presence of Jesus. The faithful also shares the unique experience of the Emmaus disciples at the Breaking of Bread (Lk 24:31, 35). The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of this kind of a sacramental relationship between Christ and the believers. Believers become part of Christ’s Body through sacraments. Our participation in his death and resurrection takes place in Baptism (Rom. 6:5). The believers are kept alive in the body of Christ through Holy Eucharist (1 Cor. 10:16). When a believer dies this relation cannot be broken because of the hope of resurrection. Though death seems to raise an obstacle between Christ and a believer in reality for a believer death is only a sleep in Christ.
Jesus came to this world to give life in abundance. He revealed the hope of resurrection in his public ministry. He proved that He has authority over dead by raising the dead. In the context of raising Lazarus, Jesus proclaimed “I am the resurrection and the life those who believe in me even though they die will live” (John 11:25). He became bread and wine to give everlasting life to his followers. Thus after His resurrection the Church celebrates the Holy Eucharist to remember His self giving and to sustain eternal life for His followers. His resurrection became a reason of the hope that His followers will also receive the same life He had after the resurrection.
3. Resurrection: The Feast of Strengthening the Marginalized
We see the empowerment of the marginalized in the feast of Jesus’ resurrection. The dispersed disciples gathered together to celebrate the good news of the resurrection of their Master. The disciples run away the moment when Jesus was arrested. St. Peter who had declared that he would not deny Christ even if he had to die with Him, denied Christ. The arrest of Jesus paralyzed the disciples and His blood shuddering death completely dispirited them. Jesus appeared to them with the greeting of ‘peace’. This rejuvenated the disciples and relieved them from fear. Jesus strengthens them by assuring them that His presence would always be with them (Matthew 28:20).
The resurrection caused the unprecedented empowerment of women, who were the first witness of His resurrection. To a great extend, the Easter faith is built around empty tomb. It is the women who came to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body found the tomb empty. Their initial perplexity was taken away by the testimony of angels. The women in turn proclaimed the good news of the resurrection of Jesus to the apostles and others (Luke 24:9-10). Jesus chides the disciples, who were hard to believe the words of women, points the reality of resurrection announced by the women (24:22-226). Just as His public ministry heightens the position of women, His resurrection also strengthened them.
This act of women might have appeared bizarre to the male dominated then existed community. However, it is quite natural for the women to become witness of this unique event because they are unique to Jesus. They were empowered in His public ministry. He made women His co- partners in His ministry breaking the shackles of patriarchal fabric of the Jewish community. They assisted Jesus and His disciples with their resources (Luke 8:3). In company with them, Jesus preached the Good News of the Kingdom of God in the various towns and villages. The women left behind their homes and their loved ones to follow Him. As followers of Jesus they became His disciples (Luke 23:49, 55).
This close relation of the women with Jesus continues even after His death. Neither the fear of crucifixion, nor the presence of the Roman soldiers, nor the darkness was any stumbling blocks in their pursuit of following Jesus. Deemed as powerless and feeble, the women gather strength through the resurrection of Christ. The history of the early church also attests the witness of women (Acts 1:14).
Jesus’ resurrection strengthens the mankind who became weak through sin. His resurrection strengthens the relationship, which was drifted because of human sin, between human beings and God. The whole creation which became disfigured by departing away from the glory of God finds reconciliation through Jesus Christ. Thus human beings received courage and hope for a closer relationship to God through Jesus Christ.
4. Resurrection: The Feast that Lays New Responsibility
The resurrection of Jesus was a very unique event. Jesus was looking forward to this day to entrust new responsibilities to His disciples. He already chose them to be His witnesses to continue His ministry after He had gone from the world. Resurrection is the turning point in taking up this responsibility.
Jesus’ resurrection reunited the disciples to be His witnesses. His appearance comforted the disciples. He charged them to be His witnesses throughout the nations. He promised another Comforter (Holy Spirit) to guide them in the way they take up the ministry. If there was no resurrection the fate of the disciples would have been different from what they became. The disciples spread the good news of Resurrection throughout the world and offered new life in Christ.
The task before the Christian Church is to be His faithful servant in the contemporary society. The forces that crucified Jesus on the cross exist in our society in manifold ways. The good news of resurrection not only over powers these forces but also facilitates new life in Christ. The Church needs to present a crucified and resurrected Jesus to the world today. The message of cross is of less acceptance in our time. Resurrection proclaims the cross and the life there after. Thus, resurrection lays the foundation for a continued ministry of the Church. The feast of Resurrection is not meant to be celebrated on personal levels but it should be celebrated throughout the world in communion with others.
I wish all readers a very Happy Easter.