Fr. Satish Joseph
The Resurrection is Not Magic! It is a Promise and An Invitation
A question has always plagued my mind. If the incarnation of Jesus, his life, his death and resurrection was indeed meant to be the turning point in human history, then why is the world still a mess? What really is the implication of the death and resurrection of Jesus? Here we are in Church, celebrating Easter! But in various parts of the world violence is still raging, wars are still being fought, children are still dying of hunger, human life is still being unconscionably destroyed, creation is still being ravaged by our endless consumerism, and we cannot even still fathom that beneath the color of our skin we are all God’s children. You would think that a global pandemic could bring us all together. We have surrendered even that opportunity. Don’t get me wrong. I am not being pessimistic. I am not looking at the glass half-empty. I am not oblivious to the presence of immense goodness in the world. I am merely regretting that the power and potential of the resurrection of Jesus has not yet been realized. Perhaps I am too eager to see God original vision for the world realized in the here and now.
My reflection for Easter is based on the understanding that the Resurrection is not a magic solution for the world, but that the Resurrection of Jesus opens a new possibility and offers a new promise. The resurrection is also an invitation – an invitation to join hands with the risen Lord for the work of human redemption.
The Resurrection is not Magic
The resurrection came at the end of Jesus’ life. If Jesus was not faithful to the Father’s will, if he abandoned his mission, if he did not embrace his passion, if he did not accept the cross, and if he did not willingly die for the salvation of the world, there would be no resurrection. Please do not misunderstand me when I say this, but Jesus had to work towards the resurrection. Having embraced the world and his human nature at his incarnation, Jesus spent 33 years in the world working towards the resurrection. Yes, God raised Jesus from the dead. Sure, the resurrection is a miracle, but it did not happen as if by magic. It took everything out of him – his life, the very last breath, the very last drop of blood. The resurrection came to be because of Jesus’ fidelity, his goodwill, his compassion, and his righteousness. It came to be because of Jesus’ faithful love for the human race. It was the result of his humble obedience to the Father’s will. It was the result of his steadfast trust in God’s power beyond death.
If the world and the human condition to change for the better, it is not going to happen like magic. It is Gandhi who said, “Be the change you want to see in the world!” But more than anything body else, we have the very example of Christ. He transformed human history by simply dedicating his life to love. This very love, and not magic, is the secret of letting the power of the resurrection overtake the world.
The Resurrection – A Promise
It is true that the world is far from what God created it to be. It is also true that Jesus worked hard to restore the world back to God’s original vision. In spite of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are not there yet. But the resurrection of Jesus reveals that those who commit themselves to God’s work are exalted in ways that defies our wildest imagination. When the opponents of Jesus put him in the tomb and covered the entrance with a heavy stone, they thought that had eliminated him forever. They thought that when they buried him, they had also buried his dream of a new world – a world that God originally envisioned. Little did they know God cannot be contained in the bowels of the earth. Rather, God’s promise for those who work toward God’s world is endless and eternal. The resurrection of Jesus is the realization of God’s promise.
Today, on this Easter day, we must keep the faith. Like Jesus, we must not lose hope. Like the One who was raised from the dead, our love must never fade. The resurrection is not magic. It a promise. It is the promise of a new world, a renewed humanity, a new destiny, and eternal life for those who join hands with the risen Christ.
The Resurrection - An Invitation
Today is Easter! We are here in Church! We believe that Jesus is the Son of God. We believe that not only is he risen from the dead, but that he is alive and among us at this very moment. For this reason, we will bow down to Christ in worship and very soon receive his very Body and Blood – the Bread of life and the Cup of Salvation. But that is not all there is to it, is it? If that were the case, then there was no need for Jesus to send his disciples out on his mission. But as he told Mary Magdalene who was first to see the risen Jesus, “…go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you’” (Mk 16:7). If the resurrection has no implications for us and for the world, then it would not be necessary for Jesus to say to his disciples, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:18-19). Really, then, the Resurrection is an invitation. The resurrection is an invitation to join hands with Christ.
One day, after the death of Jesus two disciples were on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-35). They were despondent, hopeless, and downcast. The Lord met them on the way as a stranger and opened the Scriptures to them. When it was evening, the stranger joined them for dinner. But that dinner became an invitation to return to Jerusalem. The rest is history.
Just like the disciples whose despair turned into hope, whose sadness turned into joy, and whose anguish turned into courage, today, let us return to Jerusalem. Like these two very disciples let us accept the invitation to join hands with Christ. This Eucharist is our dinner with the risen Lord. He invites to continue the work that he began. The resurrection is not magic, and neither is the transformation and the renewal of the world. But we can join hand with Christ. For a start, we begin at home. May our homes be places where the power of the resurrection is alive. Let us take it to our work tomorrow. Let us infect our neighborhood with the love of the risen Lord. It may not work like magic. But sure, there can be miracles.