“WHY ARE YOU LOOKING for the living among the dead? You will not find him here. He is risen” (Lk 24: 5-6). Alleluia, a Hebrew word, meaning “praise ye the Lord!” St Peter’s discourse in the house of a Gentile, Cornelius, makes the resurrection the basic doctrine and the crowning proof of the truth of the Christian faith: “They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. But God raised him to life on the third day.” (Acts 10: 40). St Peter stresses the truth of the resurrection by citing witnesses, including himself, who had not only seen the risen Jesus but had spoken to him and actually eaten with him. St Paul sways, “If Christ has not risen, vain is our preaching, vain too is our faith” (1 Cor 15: 14).

Today we are commemorating a unique event, unparalleled in history. Christ’s Resurrection was not a return to earthly life, as was the case with the raisings from the dead that he had performed before Easter. Jairus’ daughter and the young man of Nain, Lazarus. These actions were miraculous events, but the persons miraculously raised returned by Jesus power to ordinary earthly life. At some particular moment, they died again. Christ’s Resurrection is essentially different. In his risen body, he passes from the state of death to another life beyond time and space. At Jesus’ Resurrection, his body is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit: he shares the divine life in his glorious state, so that St Paul can say that Christ is “the man of heaven” (cf 1 Cor 15: 35-50). Today we celebrate the triumph of life over death, hope over despair, light over darkness, goodness over evil

Christ’s statements of his resurrection are as follows as he had foretold:

Jesus had declared: “By my own will I lay my life, and by my own will I take it up again” (Jn 10: 17-18). Today, we see him shattering the shackles of death and rising as the victor king. Thus tragedy has been turned into triumph; sorrow into joy.

Moreover, when the Pharisees asked for a sign, Jesus said, “In the same way that Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the big fish, so will the Son of Man spend three days and three nights in the depths of the earth” (Mt 12: 40). On another occasion, Jesus said, “Destroy this Temple and in three days, I will raise it up.” (Jn 2: 19). Moreover, Jesus told Martha “I am the Resurrection and the Life, whoever lives in me, though he die, shall live. Whoever lives and believes in me, shall never die” (Jn 11: 25-26). The parable of the wicked tenants (Mt 12: 1-9) is an allegory reflecting on Jesus’ entire ministry from a perspective after his death. Christianity is presented as the continuation of the same vineyard that was planted in the Old Testament (see Romans 11: 17-24). The parable itself ends there but the Gospel writers added “the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Ps 118:22-23). Despite the rejection of Jesus, God will use him as the foundation of the new community of Israel that God is building. Jesus said,  “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, I tell you, unless the grain of wheat falls on the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it produces much fruits” (Jn 12:23-24). The truth of Jesus’ divinity is confirmed by his Resurrection. He had said: “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he” (Jn 8: 28).

Our very hope of salvation rests on the doctrine of the Resurrection, as a solid foundation. Job, who from the highest prosperity was suddenly cast down to alter poverty and misery, deprived of all his property and children, stricken with a bathsome disease, forsaken and insulted by his wife and friends, cried out, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and he, at last, will take his stand on the earth. I shall see my advocate by my side, and in my flesh I shall see God. With my own eyes, I shall see him - I, and not another. How my heart yearns” (Job 19: 25-27).

St Marina, before she embraced martyrdom, was being tried. They asked her why she loved  man who died a shameful death on across. She replied, “Why do you speak only about his death? His death proves his humanity but his resurrection establishes that he is also God.” It was this answer of hers that led her to the gallows, and, of course, through the gallows to the glory of heaven.

A true Christian is one who believes that Jesus is alive today in the Blessed Sacrament - living, dwelling, loving and calling us to Himself. The Holy Eucharist is the Easter Sacrament because it makes present all the Paschal Mysteries of Christ, and is the completion of the Paschal Mysteries of His life, death and resurrection. Let us visit him daily. In Christ, there is only peace and joy. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at Jacob well: “Whosoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst” (Jn 4: 14). Her Saviour can be our Saviour and her joy, ours, provided that we accept the Saviour and live according to his teaching.

The formula for true happiness is contained in the eight beatitudes which are deeply profound. When Jesus calls the poor, the merciful, the gentle etc, happy, he is referring to the same group of people who are poor, gentle, merciful etc. Poor in spirit are those who do not put their trust in their possessions, their talents, their status, etc. but solely in God and in His aid. “God is God not of the dead but of the living” (Mt 22: 32). God is pure life. Therefore living in the house of God is living in a state of constant ecstasy, in which we always experience the joy of being alive.

Christ’s resurrection is the greatest of all the miracles of God. Easter is the time to look out for the other side of Calvary, when this side is full of betrayal, agony, misery, rejection, abandonment and hopelessness. Christians must tell the truth to the discouraged, disillusioned, distressed and despairing people of Nigeria. The good news must be announced to the men and women of the world that these tribulations will pass away shortly. Like the hero of the Resurrection, the victims of the evil empire who persevere in faith today shall have the last laugh.

We all belong to the Risen Lord. We are an Easter people. May He grant us a most blessed and grace-filled Easter. May the Risen Lord fill our hearts and homes with His peace and joy.

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