Friday, April 2, 2010

Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ 1Corinthians 15: 54-59

The proclamation of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to Christian faith. It came first from the angel in the empty tomb, "He is not here he has risen" (Mathew 28: 6) and then, from the women who discovered the empty tomb: "I have seen the Lord" (John.20: 18) then came the authoritative proclamation of Simon Peter and of the other apostles who witnessed the Lord alive, "We have seen the Lord." (John 20:25). "My Lord and my God."(John 20:28)

From then on the message spreads quickly from individual to individual from group to group, stirring up the whole community of believers. As we read through the biblical narration of resurrection, we are able to follow along the journey that this message takes and to rediscover the original formula with its original flavor, the Lord is truly risen! The Lord is risen and has appeared to Peter! God has raised Jesus whom men crucified!

From the initial shocking surprise bursts forth as an enthusiastic proclamation, charged with the certainty of a first hand experience. Soon it becomes the backbone of Christian preaching and of Christian faith. St. Peter in his first sermon stated categorically, "This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses."(Acts 2:32)

The proclamation comes to us today through an uninterrupted chained of witnesses. Our faith, therefore, is not based on an abstract word heard by someone in an unknown past. It is indeed born of a true fact, witnessed and proclaimed by those who experienced it and shared it. All the early preaching stands or falls with this proclamation. St. Paul affirms, "If Christ has not been raised then our preaching is in vain and so your faith."(1 Corinthians 15: 14) He continues to declare that faith in the resurrection of Jesus is the source of salvation, "If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved."(Romans 10: 9)

Why is the Resurrection so important, so central to our faith? 
The Bible presents the self-revelation of God. In the glory of the risen Lord, we come to know who God is. St. John defined God as Love.

The resurrection manifests to us the boundless character of God's love for us not only for a lifetime creating us, keeping us in existence on the earth and providing for all our needs over here - but also for all eternity. His love did everything for us to live forever. The love of God does not end in death. He conquers death for us by drowning our sin in love. That gives us great security and safety because God's reliability is everlasting. Therefore the Resurrection unveils the depth and quality of God's love. With the Easter joy filling our hearts we can with the psalmist burst out in singing, "Give thanks to God for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever."(Psalm .118: 1)

The Resurrection also unveils to us the real meaning and destiny of human life. The death and resurrection of Jesus is not only a historical event that happened to the individual person of Jesus over 2000 years ago. It is rather an experience that affects decisively the daily life of every person who believes in Jesus and changes the very texture of human living. St. Paul characterizes the life of a Christian as a constant participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ: "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life."(Romans 6:4)

We are therefore an Easter people! Henceforth we take upon ourselves the obligation to die to our sinful passions and to live as the children of light. "Let us then cast off the armour of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness not in debauchery and licentiousness not in quarrelling and jealousy." (Romans 13:12-13)

O death where is thy victory?
We are called upon to believe in the victory that Jesus won not only for himself but also for everyone who is baptized in him. Hence the exclamation of St. Paul, "Death is swallowed up in victory; O death where is thy victory? O death where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1Corinthians 15: 54-59)

When we believe in the Easter victory, our daily life and thought begin to be radiant with the glory of the risen Lord. Suffering will not drag us into despair; the gain and pleasure of sin will not hold an attraction for us. Temptations will not make us fall into sin. Even when we are hated and reviled, we will refuse to hate and revile others - this is Easter quality of Christian life.

We are not a people anxiously trying to build a kingdom over here on earth, and then desperately trying to hold on to this earthly existence by always striving to make it more comfortable and less painful. For those who believe only in a life on this earth, the stare of death is too threatening to let them remain at ease at any time. With Jesus we are convinced, "My kingdom is not of this world." (John 18: 36)

Jesus has prepared for us mansions in heavenly kingdom
Hence, as pilgrims we are always on the move, intent on "the mansions" (John 14: 2) Jesus has prepared for us in the heavenly kingdom. Death does not threaten us. It is not an end of life anyway but a passage to eternal life. We await the embrace of death with the firm assurance given by Jesus that it is an entrance to the glorious way of living where "God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore for the former things have passed away."(Revelations 21: 3-4)

This does not mean that we should shirk our responsibility to this world. Our dream is to convert this earth into the kingdom of God. So let us always pray, as taught by Jesus himself, "Your will be done on this earth as in heaven." We believe that only when the lives of individuals and the structures of the people are regulated by the will of God, can the kingdom of God come on this earth. That is our constant endeavor.

We are an Easter people indeed!

Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C

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