Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Sunday: Dead is Not Dead!

Easter Sunday 2009 12 April 2009

A very popular TV series aired an episode just this past week called “Dead is Dead”, in which there was much confusion among some characters how it was that other characters had come back from the dead. One in particular who had caused the death of another who had been resuscitated, said “Dead is dead, and no one ever comes back from that!”

How ironic that this episode was aired on this particular week, the week we commemorate the suffering, death and resurrection of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. How lacking in faith those characters (and those TV writers) are in the reality that Our Lord has conquered death by His own death and resurrection.

Very often, we hear people who have lost loved ones say in their despair, “Well, she's gone,” not realizing that in Christ, that loved one shares in His resurrection. And this resurrection is very real, not simply an example of wishful thinking, but a conviction born of a strong faith. We were all made on earth, but we were made for heaven, made to share eternity with our God, our Lord Jesus Christ, and all the saints. We hold the sure and certain hope that all who have died in Christ shall also live with Him. They, as we all, shall be more alive that we are now.

Pope Benedict, in his marvelous encyclical, Saved in Hope, says this:

The Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known – it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing. The dark door of time, of the future, has been thrown open. The one who has hope lives differently; the one who has hope has been granted the gift of new life.

This is a hope that is not simply for the distant future, but it is also instrumental in making that future present in the here and now. That hope that God is with us, that God sustains and takes care of us and our loved ones gives us the strength to push forward in a life that can be so difficult and overbearing at times. Many of us have experienced the loss of so many family members and friends over the years. Some of us have experienced losses in rapid succession, one right after another. Others have experienced the sudden death of one very close. When this happens, we tend to think that we have come to the end. How much more can we take?

Jesus Christ gave His life on the cross for our redemption. Many following His crucifixion thought the very same thing. Yet Jesus Christ went through death in order to conquer it. His very real and true resurrection is proof positive of that. In fact, account in the gospel of St. Matthew tells us that at the exact time of Jesus death on the cross, many who had died came out of their graves and were seen walking around town. Jesus sacrifice gives us life. By His resurrection, he inaugurates resurrection in glory for all of us who believe in Him.

There is a famous Eastern icon that depicts the resurrected Jesus descending to the nether-world, the abode of the dead, and takes the hands of Adam and Eve - our first parents who caused Original Sin to enter the world – and raises them from their sleep of death and leads them into Paradise. If He does that for our first parents, who caused the death of sin to enter the world, how much more will He do that for each and every one of us!

Let us cling to that firm conviction of faith that Jesus Christ has truly risen from the dead in glory, because in this firm conviction lies the promise that we also will share in that resurrection.

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