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The whimsical saying has it that the only thing of which we are certain is dying and paying taxes. Not true! The Easter gospel tells us of a far more reliable and important certitude: Jesus “had to rise from the dead.” Here then is the paradox of the resurrection: we believe but do not always understand. We believe because we encounter the risen Lord in our good works and in the holiness of each other, because we experience the nearness of our loved ones who have died, because we see the recurring newness of life all around us.
The gospel shows the extent to which Jesus’ resurrection calls all of us to examine the deepest truth about ourselves, our most intensified act of self-giving, which is this: Jesus’ resurrection calls us to surrender misunderstanding to belief, to give ourselves over to the life Jesus offers to us.
In Christ we are all members of his body, we all share in his risen life. After the resurrection the one thing that matters is that we surrender our all (even as Christ surrendered his all) to the Father and to Christ, who clothe us all with an identity beyond our deserving.
The resurrection is a mystery that we can never fully understand but only believe. This mystery takes us beyond all which is familiar to us—the certitude of our everyday living—to a realm where God’s glory and majesty and power lift us up to share in the new dignity of risen life.
Easter is a celebration of Jesus taking his rightful place in the divine kingdom of his Father where the truth of his divine being is known. Easter is also an occasion whereby we ourselves acknowledge who Christ really is—the One who shared in our humanity even to the point of accepting death, but who conquered death to raise us up to a share in his life. The tomb has no finality, really. The final word is ‘risen life’. In Jesus Christ death is overcome. In Jesus Christ each of us is invited to share in immortality—the gift of risen life.
This new life and dignity isn’t something which can be measured or calculated or grasped. It is a freely given gift by the Divine One who has loved us from the beginning of creation, who breathed life into us, and who continues to beckon us to grow into the fullness of life. In the morning we see the freshness of the dew fall, the glory of a risen sun, the clean smell of fresh beginning, the sweet sound of people waking to new beginnings, new certitude, new life.
Easter beckons us to choose this life, this being with the risen One, this Alleluia that rings out our certainty in the God of love who gives us life. The Easter mystery does not unfold all at once, though. Once Easter Day is over, that is by no means the end of the story. In fact, the Church celebrates fifty days of Easter from then on. And then, every Sunday, we are celebrating a mini-Easter—we should always be Easter people. We have to be careful not to become preoccupied with the empty tomb, rather, become focused on encountering the risen Jesus. We will experience this when someone comes to our aid; when an unexpected opportunity for growth in grace falls in our lap, when someone gives us hope and new direction.
Appropriating these and other such new things that come our way every day, is how we encounter the risen Lord. It is how we choose life. It is how, when we allow new life to flourish, it becomes is the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Wherever you are and whatever you are doing over this Eastertide, have a blessed and holy time.
Your parish priest and friend,