We have walked through Holy Week, experienced Christ’s passion, suffering and crucifixion, and then rejoiced in His Resurrection. We will continue to greet each other with “Christ is Risen!” for 40 days reminding ourselves of this amazing event. But the question is, how is this event relevant to us or the world we live in today?
The defeat of death by Christ in the first century was welcome news to the people of the time. Death was everywhere. People suffered from wars, famines, plagues and all kinds of social and political abuse. Human beings needed the hope that there was something better than what they were experiencing in their lives, otherwise life made no sense.
The ancients tried to find ways to counter the effects of death through poems and heroic tales, through monuments, graves and even mummification, but they had no clear indication as to what happens after death. The Greeks understood that the soul entered Hades, a place of darkness and everlasting suffering. The Egyptians equipped the tombs of their loved ones with material things, so that they might continue to have the comforts that they experienced in this life. The Jews thought that the soul entered Sheol, a place of dormancy and sleep. Many Jews understood that in Sheol the soul would await the final resurrection. It was this revelation of the possibility of the resurrection that gave hope to the Jewish people throughout the many centuries of oppression and suffering. Finally, it was in Jesus Christ that this promise of God was made reality. The Jewish people received the fulness of the revelation of God through the life, actions and teachings of Jesus, but the affirmation of the identity of Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God came through His Resurrection. It is through this that the promised Kingdom of God was opened wide to all humanity. It is through the Resurrection that humanity is healed and made immortal, honored, glorified, and united to divinity in the person of Jesus Christ. It is now through a relationship with the Risen Christ that people can experience the power of God and a blessed life that never ends.
Even at a time like ours (two thousand years later) when science and technology are providing us with great conveniences and comforts, we are still faced with the same human issues; pain and suffering come to us in various forms, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, and death strikes us, even when we don’t expect it, as an inevitable end. Even in a wealthy and technologically advanced society like ours, people still live in great distress and more and more people every year take their own lives trying to find release from their suffering (as recent statistics have shown). Wars are still raging around the world, evil strikes even in places where we do not expect it (like schools, airports and subways) and people are still looking for hope for the future and are still trying to make sense of life and death.
The “Christ Event”, the power of the Resurrection, the transformation offered by Christ continues to provide hope and comfort in the face of the tribulations of humanity and our ultimate physical death. We are reassured by this intervention of God that life does not end with the death of our bodies. Our spirit, our conscience, our soul lives on in the hands of God who has power over death and offers us eternal life “in a place where there is no pain, sorrow and suffering”, but life everlasting!
Christ is Risen, brothers and sisters, offering hope to the whole world!
Truly He is Risen, offering Life Eternal to all who seek Him!
The Commission of Christ to us is to spread this message of hope to the whole world through teaching and baptizing. This is the Mission of the Church and of our local Parish!