LEAVING GRAVES AND LIVING ANEW
The men and women who travelled with Jesus and were part of his ministry, the first disciples, were no more gullible than we are. They did not blindly accept everything Jesus said. They asked questions. They squabbled among themselves as they tried to make sense of what He was telling them in their formation time. With His arrest, torture and execution they naturally thought his proclamation of the kingdom of God coming in their midst, the birth of some new world order, was just words. They had backed a loser and in doing so placed their lives in mortal danger. The Romans had great experience in crushing rebellion. With the leader dead now we turn our attention to the followers.
Sensibly fearful for their lives, they locked themselves away. But then a surprising turn of events. With memories still fresh of this man from Nazareth with his preaching and miracles, his ignominious death by crucifixion, the fear of suffering the same fate is put aside and the disciples emerge in public proclaiming that in Jesus the long awaited kingdom, the new world order, has arrived.
What brought about the change? In their own words, they met Jesus alive again. This was not just in their thoughts and wishes. He was with them again. He spoke to them. He ate with them. He accompanied them on journeys. He answered questions. He helped them understand the deeper meaning of things he had said and done before his death on Calvary.
Amazingly quickly they realised the implication of this event for themselves and the whole human race. Most religions of the world have some beliefs about an afterlife. Christians saw a continuity between this life with which we are familiar and what we shall experience when we too rise to a new way of living and experiencing reality as Jesus did. This belief that there was much more to living than this life, did not make them careless of caring for themselves and others here and now, but the belief gave them a freedom to go into life threatening situations and seek the well-being of others. They would care for the sick knowing that they too could contract sickness from those they cared for. They could love and care for an enemy as the occasion arose fully aware that their love may not be returned once the danger was passed. They set aside grudges and revenge knowing that after death, God willing, all would share one community life.
The prophet Ezekiel, centuries, before Jesus, spoke God’s word and called his people to leave the graves they had dug for themselves. Graves of despair, joylessness, bitterness, resentment – worlds we enter freely but which drain us of life. Leave them, he said. Allow the goodness and the strength of God to raise you.
His words still hold true but have even more force in light of the experience of Jesus rising by God’s power to a new way of living. Jesus was not just resuscitated as we see health professionals, life savers, do with people who have come close to dying. His was a resurrection. What happened to him is what lies in store for us.
Fr Adrian Farrelly
|Mar 26, 2015||5th Sunday of Lent 22.03.2015||Listen||Download|