December 14, 2017frjohnma

Readings: Acts 10:34a.37-43; Resp. Ps. 118:1-2.15c-17.22-23; Col. 3:1-4; John 20:1-9.

Happy Easter my dear people of God and May the blessings of the risen Lord abide with you now and always! “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps.118:24). This is the most excellent and wonderful day throughout the history of the Church and the world. A day we gather to testify or to witness to the truth or reality of the reign of life over death, the triumph of light over darkness, the victory of joy over challenges, the vindication of the just over the wicked and liars. This day we celebrate joy in truth! This day our song is Hallelujah!! This day we experience the reality of the power of God over all earthly and celestial powers.

The last three days of Jesus Christ were full of meaningful events. Events that began with the celebration of the New Passover (The Lord’s Supper) and the institution of the Eucharist, then His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, His arrest, trial and condemnation, His passion, crucifixion on the Cross of Calvary, His death, burial, and His glorious resurrection. Towards the end of the third day, it seemed as if everything had ended in failure. According to the Gospel of our reflection, hopelessness was looming as Mary Magdalene found the tomb empty (John 20:1). But the empty tomb is the fact of the resurrection. The disciples were restive as they saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin rolled up in a place by itself without Jesus! (John 20:7). Again, the empty clothes without Jesus are a fact of the resurrection and the disciples saw and believed. Thus, the first reading, St. Peter our first Pope testified that though Jesus was put to “death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest; not to all people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses,” (Acts 10:39-41).

What would have happened if Christ’s Salvific events terminated at Calvary? What would have been our faith, hope and prospect if the Son of God had not risen from death? Further, what would have been the state of the ultimate hunger for the human heart if Jesus Christ was defeated by wickedness, sin and evil? Thanksgiving to God that something spectacular happened to affirm the identity of Jesus Christ who is “The way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). What are we talking about? The RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

My dear, today is a day of Joy as we celebrate the triumph of Jesus Christ over sin and death and we been chosen by God as witnesses to this great mystery. As Christians we profess our faith by saying “on the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures and every Sunday, we renew our profession of faith in the resurrection of Christ with the Creed. This amazing event is the keystone of Christianity. In the Church, everything is understood to derive from this wonderful mystery that altered the course of history and that is made present at every celebration of the Eucharist – Pope Benedict XVI.

It is a fact that the rising from death by Jesus Christ defines the core of Christianity. No wonder St. Paul says, “… if Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.” (1Cor.15: 14). How blessed we are to have faith in God, belief in the resurrection and faith in eternal life. There was not always belief in the resurrection of the dead. Do you remember the passage in the Gospels (Matt 22:23-33; Mark 12:18-28; Luke 20:27-40) where Jesus and the Sadducees argued over the resurrection of the dead?

The Resurrection of Christ has so much to offer. In the first place it disagrees and disapproves, the notion might is right. It confirms the essence of internalizing and practicing the ethics of the beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount). Therefore, the resurrection is an eloquent testimony that the agonies confronting us and us passing through them is not the end of our Christian pilgrimage; rather they are channels to lead us to the ultimate gratification.  Hence, St. Paul says in the second reading “If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Col. 3:1)

Furthermore, Christ resurrection also avails us the opportunity to enjoy immediate gratification. According to Rev. Fr. George Ehusani, “At Easter, therefore, the Christian can look intently at the cross of Christ, and at the momentary crosses of his or her own life, and say courageously, with faith and hope: ‘This too shall pass away!’

Today the Christian who is sick can look intently at the risen Lord and at his or her sickness and say with faith: ‘This too shall pass away!’ Today the Christian suffering loneliness, rejection, persecution and abandonment can look intently at the risen Lord and at his or her embarrassing condition and say with confidence: ‘This too shall pass away!’

Today the poor Christian, the unemployed Christian, the Christian experiencing failure in business and social life can look intently at the risen Lord and at his or her ugly situation and say with lively hope: ‘This too shall pass away!’”

Moreover, on this special day the Christian who is bearing the burden of an unfaithful spouse, an abusive husband or a nagging wife, the Christian who is carrying the cross of childlessness or bearing the burden of difficult children can look up to the risen Christ for resuscitation and restoration.

As a nation, we can look intently at the risen Lord and say with confidence: terrorism, corruption and economic stagnation, shall all pass away! Please keep the celebration on through the octave of Easter and continue to harvest from the plenitude of the resurrection of the Lord.  Once again, happy Easter!

Fr. John-Mary Atep – Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Area 3, Garki, Abuja

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