Alleluia! The Lord is Risen! Easter proclamation at the climax of the Service of Light during the vigil is perhaps the strangest and most radical message ever given, reminding the faithful of the victory of Christ over the powers of darkness and death: “Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.” We repeat the words too often that we’ve perhaps forgotten how weird and how wonderful they truly are.
The gospel writers give an eyewitness account of what happened. Every detail mattered to them. The disciples were not expecting Jesus’ resurrection. After all, he was brutally executed by the Romans and was buried in a grave.
When Mary Magdalene encountered the empty tomb, she ran to tell the others the news. Today it is our turn to imitate Mary’s posture. We too must make haste to share the impossibly good news that God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and that through his great love, our lives and our society can be given a new horizon and a decisive direction.
The disciples’ first reactions to the news of the resurrection were remarkable. Peter goes back to downtown Jerusalem and—filled with a new spirit—gives the first great Christian sermon. He tells the crowds the startling news that the Nazorean who was executed and buried had been raised from the dead.
This faith in the resurrection should transform us to be a people of joy and hope. The single reason for the life of the Church which traversed 20 centuries of hostilities and suppression and still remain people of hope and joy! It is also true that we Christians in Hong Kong are anxious of the prospects of surrendering to the pressures of the atheist government and with all the speculations on the possible Beijing-Vatican agreement on the choosing of bishops, we remain skeptical of our future.
Oftentimes, we forget our vocation to be the Easter people and reel under despair and anxieties. We forget that we are part of a Church that has withstood the tempests and threats of annihilation over the centuries. We continue to repeat Israel’s failure at Kadesh Barnea (Numbers 13:31-33).
The time arrived for the Israelite camp to leave Mount Sinai, where they had been camped for nearly a year, and to finally set out to possess the Promised Land! But then they worry about the possibility of being destroyed at the hands of those “giants,” in front of whom they felt like “mere grasshoppers!” For a moment, they conveniently disregarded all the mighty works that God had done for them.
I am not sure what comes first—faith or courage, but one thing is sure: faith needs courage, because it is a leap into the unknown. If this is a premise on which everyone agrees, one shouldn’t still be skeptical of the recent developments.
“The Resurrection of Jesus is not the happy ending to a nice story, it is not the “happy end” of a film; rather, it is God the Father’s intervention there where human hope is shattered. At the moment when all seems to be lost, at the moment of suffering, when many people feel the need to get down from the Cross, it is the moment closest to the Resurrection” (Pope Francis, Holy Week, 2014). jose