In his apostolic exhortation, On Christian Joy, Pope Blessed Paul VI wrote: “The resurrection of Jesus is the seal placed by the Father on the value of His Son’s sacrifice: it is the proof of the Father’s fidelity.”
The Father’s LOVE is faithful and unchanging. The loving exchange of Father and Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit which preceded creation is not broken by the meaningless chasm of death. The Father does not permit His Beloved Son to suffer death, except with the condition that a NEW and eternal LIFE arise, a NEW LIFE that could be bestowed upon others. To quote the Carmelite, Fr. Wilfred Stinissen: “When Jesus rises, he doesn’t do so alone. He takes with Him ALL who believe in Him. To believe in the Lord’s resurrection is to believe in one’s own resurrection” (This Is the Day the Lord Has Made, Liguori , 87). Now glorified and risen, Jesus makes it His first priority to return to us: “I will not leave you orphans!” His glorious Body is now the sign of the promise to us.
What God wants from us ABOVE ALL this Easter is A NEW WILLINGNESS to accept His gift of JUSTICE – the grace of REDEMPTION – offered to us in Jesus. …Are we not at times beaten down by the dark secrets we carry within us? Those lingering accusations rooted in the reality of our past failings… rooted in our pride, our self-reliance, OUR SIN …those places where we have still failed to HOPE within? What God wants from you and me—for the SAKE OF HIS GLORY—is that we come to greater faith in His IRREPRESSIBLE love for us. Christ despoils us of all accusations of injustice.
By His dying and rising Jesus charges us to abandon our too indulgent familiarity with our past sins and the tenacious identification with our past infidelity. Christ wills to make all things new. The Eternal Father has accepted the sacrifice of Christ’s death, but … have we accepted it? Do we “risk” to accept the gift of Christ’s love at the cost of abandoning the misery that is so familiar to us? As a Carthusian writer has said: “Can we give ourselves up to this joy that disorients us, [and] makes us enter into such an intense light?” (From Advent to Pentecost, Cistercian Publications , 142). Let us KEEP OUR EYES FIXED ON JESUS (Heb 12:2). Let us put to death, for love of Jesus, any lingering sadness, any jadedness rooted in pride, any suspicion that God cannot or has not “cast our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).
The truth is we are the descendants of those first women who saw the empty tomb. Their story is OUR story today. We, also, look into the dark tomb hewn out of rock … and perhaps we go to the dark, cold tomb expecting to find in that place of death ONLY our countless infidelities before God, our history of casual betrayals, an immeasurable debt of sin for which we cannot atone… and yet, we are told by the young man in white, that Jesus the righteous One (whom St. Paul tells us “became sin for us!”) is no longer in the tomb. Jesus has despoiled sin’s power to have the final word in our lives.
We who are baptized in Christ POSSESS NOW a life that is ETERNAL. Let us NOT be persuaded otherwise by the unbelief in our world, by the denial of Christ in our society and by its ridicule and narcissistic despair. And perhaps even more importantly, let us not be persuaded by any temptation of inner doubt concerning Christ’s power to save you! You and I are CHOSEN, even now, to live a RISEN LIFE. Let us then leave the tomb of our past sins, the tomb of our proud self-sufficiency and the arrogance of our willfulness, and all that makes us miserable. God has given everything to us so that we might know His joy. The words of the Exsultet say of the God the Father: “O wonder of your humble care for us! O love, O charity beyond all telling! To ransom a slave you gave away your Son!” All of this is for you and for me.
“Make ready for the Christ …Whose smile, like lightning,
Sets free the song of everlasting glory
That now sleeps, in your paper flesh, like dynamite.”
–From “The Victory” by Thomas Merton