FAITH: Hope kindled by the Easter message
Easter is the celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The empty tomb reminds us that Jesus physically rose from the dead. We are told that when St. John witnessed this reality “he saw and believed.” (Jn.20:8)
On Easter Sunday Christian Churches joyfully affirm this belief in the Resurrection; however, prior to this there has been some sombre reflection upon the suffering and death of Jesus. Easter Sunday can only be understood in relation to Good Friday.
We naturally have an aversion to suffering. This is why Jesus experienced His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus did not want to suffer; however, He did want to do His Father’s will, “Not my will but yours be done.” (Lk. 22:42)
Jesus understood that His suffering would not be in vain. Unlike all other sin offerings of the past that were only symbolic, He would be the Lamb of Sacrifice that truly took away the sins of the world. Jesus, the sinless one, assumed our sins so that all could be saved.
St. John states, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life”. (Jn. 3:16)
Jesus suffered and died on the cross because He loves us. He rose from the dead so that we could rise with Him and experience new life. St. Augustine writes, “He had no power of himself to die for us; he had to take from us our mortal flesh. This was the way in which, though immortal, he was able to die; the way in which he chose to give life to mortal men; he would first share with us, and then enable us to share with him. Of ourselves we had no power to live, nor did he of himself have the power to die. Accordingly, he effected a wonderful exchange with us, through mutual sharing: we gave him the power to die, he will give us the power to live.” (Sermo Guelferbytanus 3: PLS 2, 545-546)
In a world that seems to be surrounded by death, it is good to focus on life.
The suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus offers us great hope as we face the challenges of life today. This is especially true with regard to suffering and death. Suffering can cause isolation and a profound sense of loss. Jesus knows what we are experiencing and walks with us in solidarity and love. He invites us to join our suffering to His to continue the work of redemption in the world. This can help to bring meaning to something that seems so meaningless. This is also true regarding the mystery of death.
Christians believe that in death, life is changed not ended. When we die we share in the Resurrection of Jesus and His glorified state which is something very meaningful. We do not lose hope because Jesus gives us the power to live!
The celebration of Easter is not about the empty tomb; it is about the glorified Christ. It is about that hope that gives suffering and death new meaning. To “see and believe” is the essence of faith and the core of the Easter message for all Christians.
“Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven, exult, let Angel ministers of God exult, let the trumpet of salvation sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph! Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King, let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness. Rejoice…” (Easter Proclamation, Exsultet)
The Most Reverend Gerard