Saturday, April 7, 2012

Christ is Risen!

The mind-boggling, knee-knocking, earth-shattering, and head-spinning historical event we celebrated on Sunday, simply known as “the Resurrection,” is indeed a case of history and not hysteria, as some might believe. In short, what all our “Alleluias” are about surrounds an event actually witnessed by no one, yet its truth is witnessed by many.

Unlike the sacred writings of other religions, the highly embellished imaginative legends of Greek and Roman mythology, and those of the Hindu tradition, what we have are stark historical events. It is of interest to note that all the miraculous events we read in the Bible, most notably the resurrection, all somehow fall within the context of human reason. Meaning, there is a difference between the extraordinary events in mythology and the miraculous events in the Gospels. There is big difference between Medusa who turns people into stone and the man born blind who sees. In Oriental legends people sprout wings and fly away, in the Gospels paralyzed people walk away – there is a difference.

What I like to propose is that the historical event which we are celebrating as the key and cornerstone of the Christian faith is rational and reasonable. While we may not be able to understand the depth and dimensions of the resurrection, we are not speaking about myth, but rather mystery. The resurrection is a credible historical event – a product of God’s hand and not man’s imagination.

Yet the power of the resurrection on the apostles and disciples of Our Lord was indeed mind-boggling and knee-knocking – literally! All of us have a friend or family member who has died. For some of us their passing is quite recent. Now, how would you react if the person who you know is dead suddenly walked into the room? What would you do – jump up and say “Wow! I thought you were dead! What are you doing here?” No, you and I would probably either faint, punch ourselves in the head to make sure it wasn’t a dream, or we would run out of the house! In short, we would be like the disciples – incredulous at first, then beside ourselves with fear and joy. No wonder Jesus’ first words to the gathered apostles were: “Peace be with you.”

Friends, while few of us experience the full impact of the resurrection in our emotions, we can possess in some way its power in our soul. This means we can believe in this mysterious and miraculous event without physically or emotionally collapsing. The faith and conviction exhibited in the lives of the early disciples who literally saw and touched the Risen Lord can be ours. In fact, while many of you don’t believe you have such an apostolic faith, you should remember how the Lord has carried you through some dark and difficult days. The power which has brought you through the deep valleys and up the daunting mountains was at work in you. This is what we call faith.

Although you have not witnessed the battered and bloodied body of Jesus placed in the tomb, and then gloriously liberated from death, you believe it, not because it happened in history but because it is happening in your history.  Faith is not only a gift by which we believe in the things of God, but it enables us to behave as God – to be godly, holy, and righteous – especially when it is most difficult.

The saints – those sanctified by the gift of faith – prove that the historical event called the resurrection is not only reasonable, but real. Despite a cross, a scouring, and a spear, they lived a life triumphant and glorious. Especially seen in the lives of the martyrs, we read about those who conquered sin and death – stared into the face of death – and smiled. Yes, the power of the resurrection alive and at work, not only in past history, but in your history.

During these eight days, the Octave of Easter, let us continue to wish each other a “Happy Easter.” It’s not about a day – this is the Easter season. Let us reflect on the ways faith has lead us through a Red Sea, fed us in the desert, opened our eyes, and empowered our weak limbs. Despite it all, we’re still here in hope of that day when death will be no more. The Easter story is not a myth, but a fact – a fact of faith. For this faith, this gift, this grace, may we be ever grateful. Perhaps the only word that sums it all up is “Alleluia!”

Fr. Glenn Sudano, CFR
Most Blessed Sacrament Friary
Newark, NJ

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