Once upon a time, some little boys were playing roadside soccer (football) when one of them gave a kick that sent the ball into a nearby bush. The bush was actually very thick and frightening that neither the boy who kicked the ball nor other players agreed to go into the bush to search for the ball. They were disputting over who should go into the thicket to get the ball when one boy who was not playing with them but was watching offered to go into the bush to get the ball.
They were happy, though a few of them felt guilty that the boy they refused to feature in the game offered to pick the ball he did not kick. The search volunteer dashed into the bush and began an ultimate search for the ball. Incidentally, the ball rolled into a ditch. The boy saw it and also noticed that the ditch was deep and had rain water in it. He thought of giving up, but he considered the fun his friends were having with the ball though he was only watching and he decided to go into the ditch to get the ball. He lowered himself inside the ditch but got trapped in the mud.
He thought of shouting but quickly dismissed the idea saying to himself: “if they could not pick the ball from the bush would they be ready to pick me out of the ditch!” He struggled by himself. He finally got the ball and managed to get out of the ditch. He was happy that his friends will resume their game and from the bush he threw the ball out. They were overjoyed and continued their game. The boy eventually came out but surprisingly none of those playing noticed that he was all dirty and messed up by the mud in the ditch. They were so absolved in the game. Looking at them he smiled and went home happy that he was able to make his friends happy by rescuing their ball from the ditch though it was neither easy not appreciated.
What the boy in our story did for his friends is very touching and the fact that they could not appreciate him is deeply regrettable. This could be linked to what our Lord Jesus Christ did for us. In the past three days it could be said, from the point of view of our story, that he has been in the “bush” searching for the lives that were lost or kicked away by sin. He sought and found them there is joy but is he being appreciated for this?
Today, the psalmist rightly stated: “This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it”, (Psalm 118:24). Like those kids we rejoice and are glad because what was lost has been found, what was lacking has been recovered; now the game of life can continue.
It will be useless for us to shout “Alleluia!” without knowing and appreciating what God did for us through His Son. It will be an absurd acclamation if we do not realize how far our Lord Jesus Christ went for our sake and for our salvation. The celebration will be preposterous if we do not pay attention to the details of the resurrection that brought about our salvation.
In the First Reading today (Act 10:34a, 37-43) St. Peter took time to testify to the fact of the resurrection as a real event that he and others witnessed. He presented a testimonial of our Lord Jesus Christ and demonstrated the fact that he not only worked by the power of the Holy Spirit, he was also opposed by the devil but did not give up and thus accomplished his mission by his death and resurrection through which we receive forgiveness of our sins.
The Gospel Reading (Jn.20:1-9) gave us an account of the resurrection scene involving Mary Magdalene who came very early in the morning, while it was still dark, to check up on the Lord. It is very interesting to picture this woman leaving her house at the wee hours of the morning and heading to the graveyard. What could have moved her to do that? She believed in the Lord and had hope in him! Faith and hope indeed founded on love (1 Cor.13:13). When your life is based on these three virtues some questions become useless. She did not ask how the stone will be moved, she had no fear of anything, spirit or human. All she wanted was to visit the Lord.
At the graveside, she discovered that the stone had been moved. Often in life we don’t need to worry about certain things because God will take care of them. Remember he is the almighty; that means nothing is impossible for Him. Upon a deeper reflection, we can say that Mary Magdalene believed that the Lord would rise and she wanted to be the first witness. It takes faith to make that kind of visit to the graveyard.
When she discovered that the tomb was empty she went to invite Peter and John to be co-witnesses. When we make an encounter with God, Christian charity and fellow-feeling challenges us to invite others to share in our experience. Today we are witnesses and we are also encouraged to spread the joy and gladness of the resurrection to others.
It will be fitting for us to know the “behind the scene” events that characterized the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. From the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ the devil began to look for ways of stopping the salvific work of the redeemer through different persons and situations though without success until the appointed time when our Lord was subjected to suffering and death on the cross. So when we hear about Herod plotting to kill the infant, the Scribes, Sadducees, Pilate, the Priests, Pharisees, the towns people of Nazareth and their like, we should actually see these as orchestrations of the devil to frustrate the work of our redemption.
After the death of Jesus the devil also saw the need to stop him from rising from the dead through the Chief Priests and the Sanhedrin who went to Pilate to ask that the tomb be guarded by Roman soldiers (Matt 27:62-65). This was a situation where mere mortals wanted to prevent a divinely programmed redemptive plan.
This whole arrangement of supposing that the disciples will come to take the body of Jesus away and say that he rose from the dead showed the anxiety on the part of the devil that after all, the resurrection will make a show of the futility of his plans. It is important to note that nobody, spirit or human, can thwart the plans of God for your life.
At the appointed time; the divinely instituted moment the soldiers strategized to beat Jesus back into the grave should he attempt to rise. However there was an earthquake (Matt.28:1) and an angel came and rolled the stone that was covering the tomb away. The soldiers were so terrified that they became like dead men and at that instant our Lord rose majestically and triumphantly. The soldier woke up only when it was too late and they could only go to report themselves as sleeping when the disciples took the body of the Lord away; an incredible tale that is unbecoming of Roman Soldiers.
The testimony Mary Magdalene who went to the tomb early and met an empty tomb was ascertained by Peter and John who went to confirm the empty tomb; as a woman’s testimony at the time do not hold water. It is also our faith that our Lord has risen and that also marks our own resurrection. We are a resurrection people. There is no way our Lord could rise and we remain unaffected and unchanged by the power of his resurrection. To this end, St. Paul would admonished us that if we believe that we have been raised with Christ we should seek for things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of the father (Col.3:1f).
The resurrection of Jesus is productive of a lasting identity for us. There is need for every aspect of our lives to be marked with the character of the resurrection. Pope Benedict XVI in his book Jesus of Nazareth (part two) indicated that the Christian faith stands or falls with the truth of the testimony that Christ is risen from the dead. May his resurrection open new vistas of elevation for you. With the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ our lives ought to change:
- From gory to glory.
- From shame to fame.
- From zero to hero.
- From nobody to somebody.
- From nothingness to something else.
- From darkness to light.
- From condemnation to commendation.
- From victim to victory.
- From pain to gain.
- From destruction to construction.
- From pity to praise.
Happy Easter and more blessings in your life.