Easter Sunday | Fr Simon Gaine exults in the good news of the Resurrection of Christ.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is bursting with meaning for our lives, for where we are now and where God wishes to lead us. His saving death and his victorious rising to new life are God’s answer to suffering, betrayal, wickedness and evil. We are so aware of the enormity of such questions, but we have no answer of our own to give that can really satisfy us and help us on our way. Left to our own resources, we could so easily despair of an answer at all.
But God gives his answer to us in the great paschal mystery we have been celebrating these past few days. The cross and resurrection are God’s own answer because they are God’s own death and God’s own glorious resurrection. For in Jesus Christ, none other than God the Son was made man for the sake of our salvation, to free us from sin and death by dying and rising again. When he was nailed to the cross, none other than God himself, the Son of God, was crucified. When his body lay in the tomb, none other than God incarnate lay there dead. And when he rose again, it was God himself who then lived and now lives a glorious and indestructible human life, never to die again.
God has come close to us in our suffering, and has conquered sin and death and every evil. He has come close to us by sharing our human condition, by suffering betrayal, by undergoing agonising torture, and by dying a most horrific death. This is no God who stands afar off, but one who experienced what is ugliest in humanity from the inside. God of course knows all things. The Creator is nearer to us than we are to ourselves. But in Christ he came close to us as one of us to redeem us, and he experienced our sufferings as one who suffers too. There is no human indignity, no humiliation, which God does not know in his human flesh.
But he does not merely come to know our plight as one of us. His work does not end there. He who is one of us also conquers our condition, and wonderfully renews the human race. By undergoing death he can now triumph over death by gloriously rising from the dead. His wounded body is now transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, the victorious first-fruits of a new creation and a new humanity. He came to be with us in poverty so that we might come to be with him in the riches of his glory.
St Paul says that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with our future glory in Christ. This is not easy to grasp, because we can see the evils of the present times so clearly, while the resurrection itself lies beyond our clear vision, and we catch sight of it only obscurely by faith.
But when we ponder in faith on the passion of Christ and his rising from the dead, we can begin to glimpse the transformation which God holds out to the whole of the old creation, wounded as it is by human sin. What the resurrection did for the crucified Christ can be done for us too. There is no evil, no betrayal, that is beyond the scope of God’s power to heal, and he offers us all a share in Christ’s new creation, in a new humanity. Sin and death do not have the final word.
Christ is risen! This is God’s answer to the questions we cannot answer for ourselves. But he has a question for us too.
His question to us is whether we will put to death our sin, and live in the newness of Christ’s Easter life. If we can embrace that life now through the gift of the Holy Spirit, and become part of the new creation, if we can live from the power of the Eucharist Christ has left us, then we can even now welcome our future glory into our hearts and lives, and make our way by faith to the life of the world to come.
Photograph by Fr Lawrence Lew OP of part of an enamelled triptych dating to 1150, from the Victoria and Albert Museum collection.