Joy of the Resurrection

Do you remember where you were when Elvis Presley died? 

Or when the television turned from black and white to colour? 

Or even when the astronaut Neil Armstrong made that one huge leap for humankind?

I am under the impression that we use questions like this because these events are markers in history. They are moments which appear to be impressed upon the collective imagination and account of our lives. They become then a way to reflect upon the past, and to think how far we’ve come. The resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Word of God incarnate in flesh and blood like ours is so much more. It is not just an event which we look back upon each year, but a moment – the moment – which changed human history forever. Our accounts of the past, present, and future have never been the same since, and will never be the same again. 

Yes, this is an event that speaks to the whole of human history, it also speaks to the individual in the very core of their human identity. And I think that once our community celebrations and liturgies are over, we carry with us this individual experience. In our own lives, we carry with us this momentous change. But we may be thinking, how does the resurrection of Jesus change my story? Or even saying to ourselves, “yes, that was a moment in the past around 2000 years ago, was it not just in the past?”

Through Holy Week in our parishes and communities across the world we experienced a true spectacle. The Triduum (ending with the Easter vigil) is a pure assault upon the senses. I believe that by following Christ throughout these 3 days of liturgy, we experience every human emotion. Every moment of weakness, pain, sorrow, betrayal, deception, and finally ultimately death is experienced by Christ. In the person of Christ, we will witness the complete outpouring of who God is. Not just in the glorious rising from the dead, but in every aspect and moment Holy Week. In it, we see that God, in the person of Jesus knows our situation, knows what it is to be a human person.

On Palm Sunday, with palms and shouts of joy, we welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem like a prophet and king. We echoed the words of the early followers and shout “Hosanna!”. Almost immediately this image of a triumphant King is turned on its head as Jesus washes the feet of his disciples in an act of lowly humility. Jesus then shares in his final meal with his disciples, we are invited to partake in his body and blood and feel the weight of our responsibility to continue this celebration in his memory. We move to feel Jesus’ betrayal by Judas and then his agony in the Garden. We recognise in ourselves those very human emotions. Our God is then flogged, humiliated, exhausted, empty, weak. And then, death – the most human of conditions is experienced by Jesus. 

Yet these human emotions can never be the same again, neither can this experience of earthly life. In the letter to the Colossians, we are reminded to look upon the world with new life – with resurrection vision –transformed. We are called to look to the things of heaven – not to those earthly things which ground us in the past and in misery. In his death and resurrection our lives are changed. And if we allow ourselves (and allow God) there can be no part of our human experience that Jesus cannot now penetrate for he has been there before. 

I would suggest that it is this transformed human experience which is more difficult to comprehend, or even accept. Who am I to be…? But that was God, and I’m just me…. For me, this is the challenge of Easter, this is the new future which Christ’s resurrection has rewritten for me. The joy of promised new life, but also the hope of my human experience being truly transformed by God. I think that we come to know ourselves through this resurrection. We come to know ourselves through this new life of Easter. Looking upon our world with a transformed vision, a Godly vision.

Our history has changed, for from this moment of resurrection we shall never be the same. And Our future has been re-written with the new life that Christ brings is at the centre. As we move forwards into this new future, do we accept the challenge to allow the risen Christ into every aspect of our lives? The call to place Him at the centre so that all may experience through us the joy of the Resurrection.

Matthew Janvier O.Carm

Weekly Reflections

Steps on the Journey - weekly Reflections from Carmel
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