EASTER SUNDAY: THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD YEAR C APRIL 21, 2019 (R. 1: Acts 10: 34a, 37- 43; Psalm: 118: 1- 2, 16- 17, 22- 23; R. 2: Colossians 3: 1- 4; Gospel: John 20: 1- 9)
REVD FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO
DEATH HAS DIED!
I have good news for you: death has died! The battle line was drawn from the beginning in the garden of Eden. After the serpent succeeded in tempting our first parents (Adam and Eve) to eat the forbidden fruit, “God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, be accursed beyond all cattle, all wild beasts…I will make you enemies of each other: you and the woman, your offspring, and her offspring. It will crush your head, and you will strike its heel” (Genesis 3:14). And so the battle line was drawn. From that point, the fight continued between the Light and darkness, between Truth and falsehood; and between Life and death. God sent messengers and prophets to encourage human beings to be on the side of Truth, while the evil one was sending agents to deceive human beings to join the opposing camp.
In the fullness of time, God sent His son Jesus into the battlefield in fulfillment of the prophecy made earlier in the Book of Genesis about the offspring of the woman. When he arrived, he did not hesitate to introduce himself properly; he said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). During his trial, Pilate had the boldness to ask Jesus, what is Truth? But Jesus answered with a loud silence (cf. John 18:38ff). There is no need for Jesus to say any word because standing before Pilate is the embodiment of Truth. If he is not able to recognize Truth in Jesus, then there is no word to be spoken that can help him. Truth is not meant to be defined; Truth is beyond definition; Truth is intended to be followed; Truth is meant to be contemplated; Truth is meant to be worshiped.
When Jesus arrived at the battlefield, the devil knew there was trouble. He quickly pretended to be a friend; he came to “teach” Jesus how to satisfy his hunger, how to become rich, and how to become famous. But no one can lie to the Truth. Jesus knew there was no iota of truth in the father of lies. And so the battle continued.
It was the grand finale of the battle, and so it had to be fought where it all started. Humanity fell in the flesh, and so Truth came in the flesh. Humanity fell by eating (the forbidden fruit), and so Jesus the Truth brought humanity back to life by giving us his body to eat and his blood to drink. Humanity fell by eating of the fruit of the tree, and so Jesus saved humanity by going to the tree (the cross). Humanity was chased out of the garden, and so Jesus went to the garden to be betrayed, arrested and crucified to reclaim the garden for humanity. It was in the garden that humanity first disobeyed the will of God, now in the garden, God’s will is perfectly obeyed by Jesus. When humanity fell in the Garden of Eden, Angels came to chase human beings away, but now, the same angels bow to worship humanity because, in Jesus, humanity took on divinity as soon as divinity took on humanity. And so, I prophesy to you listening: the location of your pain will be turned into the location of your gain, and the place of your shame will be turned into the location of your fame if only you let Jesus in.
Remember, the battle still has to be fought before it can be won. Remember, the prophecy said that the offspring of the woman would have to suffer a bit: the serpent will strike his heel, but he will crush the head of the serpent. The scar on his heal will only be a testimony, a receipt, a certificate that he fought and won the battle. And so, he had to endure the cross; he had to die, and he had to be buried. With his burial, it seemed that was the end of Truth. Fear Truth when Truth seems defeated, for that is when Truth is strongest. You can nail the Truth to the Cross, and shut the Truth up in the tomb, but the Truth will not stay there, the Truth will only stay for three days and bounce back stronger than ever. And so we sing Alleluia! The Truth has won! The Truth is Risen, and death is dead!
What is the implication of this Resurrection for us as Christians? Death was the worst threat we could face, but since Jesus died and came back to life, death is stripped of its power, death has been killed. For Christians, death is no longer the end, but the transition to a better life. The resurrection must free us from fear and let love take over. Sometimes, when we are in trouble, when we need God the most, then it seems God runs out of business and closes up His shop. Sometimes, those we trust the most turn against us, our best intentions are misunderstood, the reward for the good we have done is given to those who have no idea how hard we worked for it, the mouths we fed are used in cursing us; the hands we nursed are used to strike us; the feet we washed are used to go on errands against us. Like Jesus, we cry out, “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me? And we are greeted with silence. No, it is not a meaningless silence; there is more to it. Just wait for the third day, for nothing can stand in the way of God. He is at his best when things seem to be at their worst. Sometimes, God allows the deed to be done before acting.
The case of Jesus seemed to have been concluded on Good Friday. Falsehood seemed to have won, little did the enemies know that the third day was going to change the story. Maybe the world has concluded your case; perhaps the world has passed judgment on you that you are no good, I challenge you to wait with Jesus till the third day, for God is not done with you. Death has been our worst fear, but now that death has died, what is there to fear? May God’s plan for us overcome the intention of the world for us, by the power of the resurrection, through Christ our Lord. Amen.