By Most Reverend Alberto Rojas
Dear friends, Peace and Happy Resurrection of the Lord Jesus to all of you. For over 2,000 years this has been the cry of the Catholic Church that gives us our identity: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead; he is alive! We don’t worship a dead body, but a Man-God who has overcome the dark power of Satan, the power of death and the corruption of sin. Giving up his life on the Cross out of love for all of us sinners, and rising from the tomb, Jesus lives forever with us and for us. Oh, happy day!
The Resurrection of Jesus is the “big bang” of the new creation. It is the explosion of new life and love that shakes the evil dust of the world from our hearts and minds that we can be amazed again and again; it is the most powerful happening in the world, ever; the greatest of miracles because it proves that Jesus Christ is God. The Resurrection of Jesus gives us hope and encouragement through our suffering and tears, the world’s idolatry and deception, and it reminds us that new life in Him is all worth living for. There is a tendency in the secular world to make ordinary what is extraordinary, but the Resurrection of Jesus is not a myth nor a legend… it is a real historical act of divine power and love for us; an unconditional love that changes everything for good if we dare to accept it.
The shrine of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem is visited by thousands of pilgrims from all over the world every year; people are curious to see the place where the body of the Lord Jesus was laid for three days. Then they pray and reflect on the Resurrection. In the gospel, the Angel of the Lord told the women: “He is not here.” But people want to see the place from which Jesus Christ rose from the dead, leaving an empty tomb as he had told his disciples he would. This is the most important miracle in his life, defying the laws of nature and proving that he is God. We rejoice at this amazing event by celebrating Easter.
The empty tomb in itself may not be a direct proof of the Resurrection, but it was still a great sign for all, as the disciples made their first step toward recognizing this very fact. This was the case, first with the holy women, and then with Peter. The disciple “whom Jesus loved” affirmed that when he entered the empty tomb and discovered “the linen cloths lying there,” “he saw and believed.” He realized from the empty tomb’s condition, that the absence of Jesus’ body could not have been of human doing and that Jesus had not simply returned to earthly life as had been the case with Lazarus. Jesus did not come back to life; Jesus came forward to life.
The powerful people of that time became Jesus’ enemies because He put compassion above social traditions, He placed divine love above human law, and people above material things. His relationship with God his Father was so intimate that He claimed to be one with God, and those who were scandalized took up stones to cast at him for blasphemy. Christ Jesus proved his divinity by not only dying for us, but also by rising for us and appearing to many people after his Resurrection. He came forward alive to give us new life here on earth, and especially to share with us, God’s own eternal life forever.
The Resurrection of Jesus proves to the world that death does not have the last word. The dying of so many people around the world by acts of terrorism and violence does not have the last word; the assassinations of St. Oscar Romero and Martin Luther King, Jr. do not have the last word; the hundreds of thousands of abortions committed every year; the acts of hatred and racism in our country, the thousands of brothers and sisters taken by the pandemic, all these things do not have the last word. Jesus is the life, the truth, and the way; in his Resurrection we all have hope.
While the first witnesses of the Resurrection were the apostles and a few women, the mission to witness Jesus belongs to all of us who profess our faith in Jesus’ victory over sin and death. We, too, are the witnesses in our own day. And how much does this world need witnesses to the truth of Jesus Christ! How much do we need to be ever more credible witnesses to those truths by which we are called to live in the world as brothers and sisters, created in the image and likeness of God! Let’s awaken from our slumber and celebrate the risen Lord among us with gratitude and joy. Happy Easter!