Easter: the dawn of a new era
Easter Sunday, Year A (Matthew 28:1-10)
April 16, 2017
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
THE resurrection of Christ is intrinsically connected with his bitter passion and death. Already the Prophet Isaiah had anticipated its occurrence in the Fourth Oracle of the Servant of the Lord: “If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, . . . . Because of his affliction, he shall see the light in fullness of days” (Is 53:10-11). Together with his passion, death and Ascension into heaven, the Resurrection constitutes the global saving event called “Paschal Mystery.”
The Resurrection is not simply Christ’s personal triumph after the terrible sufferings/humiliation he endured in his passion and death. It is also the cause and reason for the “resurrection” of mankind as a whole and of each human being. It brings about the end of the long night of Satan’s sovereignty over the children of Adam, and ushers in an era of new life for all humans – the life of the redeemed children of God.
Christ’s resurrection, then, concerns us, too. We benefit from it, just as we benefit from his death on the cross. Both are expressions of his universal love for us. As the first Easter Preface proclaims, “by dying, Christ has destroyed our death; and by rising, he has restored our life.” This is so because we are part of his Mystical Body. In baptism, we have come to share both in his death and his resurrection. We have become one with him in everything.
His destiny is our destiny, too. This is why the Resurrection grounds our hope in the life to come. We, too, shall rise, thanks to the resurrection of Jesus. He is the firstfruits, the firstborn from death. We shall be the plentiful harvest, the numerous brothers and sisters he saved from the power of hell.
Christ’s triumph over death is also ours, not only for the life to come, but also in this present earthly existence. Writting to the faithful of Corinth, St. Paul declares, “If Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, is your faith. . . . And if Christ has not been raised . . . you are still in your sins!” (1 Cor 15:14.17) Christ’s resurrection proclaims loud and clear that, already now, life is stronger than death, and love is stronger than hatred.
Therefore, the Resurrection grounds also our hope in this life. It fills it with meaning and worth. Without such a hope in the present life, all hope in the life to come would be baseless – just an impotent consolation and a form of alienation.
Jesus’ resurrection must be made relevant to our life NOW. We have to understand and believe that our life on earth has a meaning because Christ rose from death. The apostle Paul understood this truth better than anyone else and expressed it in the famous sentence, “If Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, is your faith . . . . And if Christ has not been raised, . . . you are still in your sins!” (1Cor 15:14-17). What we do in this life can acquire a tremendous value only because of his resurrection – because he shattered the power of sin.
This is why our life is filled with HOPE; it is filled with LIFE. This is why, as far as we are concerned, the resurrection of Christ is not an isolated event of the past, but an ever-present reality that benefits us all. It should be our “program of life,” till it becomes our “way of life” already here on the earth, while waiting for the endless day when it will be our permanent “state of life.”