BY: Fr. Gerald M. Musa


HOMILY: Very often we assume that we understand the mystery of death and resurrection. Sometimes, children pose some basic questions to us about death and resurrection and we come to realise how little we know about the reality of resurrection. Children would normally ask: what is the meaning of death? ‘Where did granddad go after his death? Do dead people wake up from sleep? Where is heaven?

When we talk about heaven, our fingers are pointing to the skies. I have wondered why we assume that heaven is in the skies and yet the astronauts who travelled to the moon did not see heaven. When we talk about hell we point to the ground, to mean that hell is the depth of the earth. Most often we think of heaven and hell as physical places or a particular locations instead of thinking of them as states of relationship or exclusion from God. The Sadducees had misconceptions about death and resurrection and Jesus had to clarify the meaning of resurrection (Matthew 22).

There is no greater explanation of the resurrection of Jesus than his own resurrection. There were many who witnessed this amazing event of the resurrection. Among the witnesses was Mary of Magdala who came to the tomb in the early hours of the morning. She saw an empty tomb and she ran to report what she saw to Simon Peter and to the other disciples. Peter and the rest of the disciples ran to the tomb to see. They saw and believed He had risen indeed. Peter gave a testimony about the resurrection of Jesus. He said: “This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead (Acts of the Apostles 10:40-41).

What distinguishes Christianity from other religions is that the founder of the religion died and rose again and assured all his followers that the same would happen to them. In fact, Jesus is the only religious leader in the world who declares himself as the Way, the Truth and Life. What is more, he openly declares: ‘I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes in me, though he was dead, yet he will live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ St. Paul explains further that the resurrection of the believer begins with baptism. The reason is not far fetched; baptism is the beginning of a new life in Christ. Baptism is a sign of life and death, because at baptism one dies to sin and comes alive in God. The Apostle admonishes, “If then you are raised with Christ, seek what is above (live a new life) (Colossians 3:1).

When we recite the creed, we would always say, ‘I believe in the resurrection of the body and in the life to come.’ This is an expression of faith, which some Christians even in the early church were not very clear about. Some of the early Christians were asking questions with regards to how the resurrection would take place. St. Paul explains the nature of the resurrection to the Christians in Corinth. He asked: ‘how can some of you say that the dead will not be raised to life? If that is true it means that Christ has not been raised; and if Christ had not been raised from death then we have nothing to preach and you have nothing to believe.’ (1 Corinthians 15:12-14).

Another question, which the people were asking, was: ‘how can the dead be raised to life? What kind of body will they have? You fool! When you sow a seed in the ground, it does not sprout to life unless it dies. And what you sow is bare seed, perhaps a grain of wheat or some other grain, not the full-bodied plant that will later grow…This is how it will be when the dead are raised to life. When the body is buried; when raised, it will be immortal. When buried, it is ugly and weak; when raised it will be beautiful and strong. When buried, it is a physical body, when raised it will be a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-44).

The resurrection of Jesus is the bedrock of the Christian faith. Something I find fascinating during the celebration of Easter is the sharing of Easter egg in some cultures. This Eater egg is a symbol of the new life, which the resurrection brings to every baptised person and to those who believe and die in Christ. Easter gives us hope of dying and rising again; falling and rising up again; hope of opening a new chapter in life and the hope there is life beyond the physical world.

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