11 April 2020
God has a sense of humour. We have at times grumbled about the long Liturgies (3-4 hours) of the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. This is due to the liturgy of light and the baptism liturgy. All these are either omitted or postponed this year due to the circumstances of the pandemic. It seems that God is saying to us that, yes, he has heard our grumblings and has granted us a “jubilee year”. This year, we are to participate in the liturgy from our home-church.
The resurrection of Jesus was unexpected. It seemed like a joke to proclaim that one can rise from the dead. More so, that he has risen and is seen by some. How can it be? How do we prove it? What do we see? Questions, suspicions, and doubts will definitely set in as this has never happened and will not happen again.
The Gospel stories do not tell us how Jesus rose from the dead. Rather, they tell us that he is risen! How can it be? Matthew’s Gospel narrates the encounter between the women and the angel at the tomb followed by their personal encounter with the risen Lord. The women, Peter and John had seen the tomb. The women and the disciples had met the Lord Jesus. They are the witnesses of the resurrection. And they tell us what they had seen and what they believed – that Jesus is indeed risen. With that, their lives are changed forever.
How are their lives changed? If we look at the empty tomb, the empty tomb emits more questions than answers. There is a possibility that the women had gone to the wrong tomb; the disciples stole the body; Jesus did not really die but revived and wandered away; or Jesus was indeed raised from the dead. The empty tomb is controversial. The empty tomb cannot tell us what had actually happened inside it. The secret lies within the darkness of the tomb. What we see from the empty tomb are the proofs given by the angel and by the risen Lord himself. To the witnesses, both the angel and the risen Lord gave the same message – Jesus has risen and the disciples must go to Galilee; they will see the risen Jesus there.
It is from these witnesses that the appearances of Jesus continued to be experienced not just by the disciples but by many others too (1 Cor. 15:5-8). From all these witnesses, we are told that the appearances of Jesus is real. These were not their dreams, visions, hallucinations, etc. Jesus is indeed alive and not a ghost; he eats and drinks, and his risen body is beyond our comprehension (John 20:19). Their lives are changed because of this one truth that Jesus is risen and is our Lord. From these witnesses, the Church has continued to proclaim this truth about Jesus: “He is risen!”
This is what we proclaim today, “Jesus is risen!” This is the message we bring with us. This is the message we share with others. And this message shall be proclaimed until the end of time. We pray then, that on this day of Jesus’ glorious resurrection God may grant us the renewal brought by the Holy Spirit and that we may rise up in the light of life.
gloria et laus
Fr Patrick Heng
Blessed Sacrament Church, BDC, Kuching