Fr. Anthony Kibira MCCJ
In his book, Immortal Diamond, Fr. Richard Rohr OFM (2013) presents the Risen Christ as “the standing icon of humanity in its final and full destiny.” Easter is thus, “the pledge and guarantee of what God will do with all of our crucifixions.” It is important to note that this is the logical conclusion of God’s initiative of becoming one of us. It is a manifestation that humanity matters to God. In Jesus of Nazareth, God chose to be one with humanity so that human beings can share divine nature. In a wounded and wounding world, Christians ought to proclaim clearly that human beings are nobler than they often think they are. Our destination is something beautiful. This is the message of Easter. What we celebrate at Easter is first true about Jesus whom the bonds of death couldn’t hold captive. The Father raised Him from the dead. It is, however, a celebration of humanity’s hope for transformation into the true Self that has its origin and goal in the eternity of God.
At one with humanity’s wounds
The Lenten journey that we have just lived has been an opportunity to recognize our little selves, which in fact must die so that the true Self can shine. All the Lenten observances have not been an effort to increase our bargaining power with God. No, they have instead brought us nearer to God and thus, nearer to our true selves. We have come to realize that as human beings, we are wounded and are capable of inflicting wounds. The forty days that we started with the sprinkling of ashes were ample time to be with the Lord in the desert so that we can with Him learn how to discern the allurements of the devil and resist the tempter’s tricks.
Taking up our crosses through self-denial has equipped us to be faithful disciples who are ready to move up to the moment of the Cross. It is under the Cross that we really “under-stand” the meaning of true love. It is good to remind ourselves of this love which conquers death so that we can imitate the one who really loved. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15, 13). It is love that lets Jesus be crucified. The Cross is thus, the Teacher’s pulpit, which He uses to deliver His master-piece: He seems to be saying: “I am one with you in your brokenness. I show you the problem and the solution.” The Cross has exposed humanity’s perennial problem, namely, crucifixion. The wounds Jesus incurred on the Cross were inflicted on to Him by the wounded humanity itself in defense of deadly religious and power systems. As we celebrate the victory of the Lord, we ought to be aware of these systems and the old patterns of crucifixion. The solution to all sorts of crucifixion is Jesus’ ability and readiness to suffer without making others suffer. From the Cross, He seems to be crying out to all the humans especially those who are addicted to making others suffer: “Let crucifixion end with me!” Have we heard this as we celebrate His victory? The first step in letting our wounds be healed is to sincerely recognize and name them. Exposed to the light of the resurrection, no wound is incurable.
Wounds are healed
The Evangelist; Luke presents an interesting detail in his resurrection account: “I am not a ghost! I have flesh and bones, as you can see”, says the Risen Lord (Lk. 24, 39-41). In John’s gospel, He will say to Thomas: “Put your finger in the wounds!” (John 20, 27) The Risen Lord has the marks that identify Him with the humans. What is interesting to note is that through the transformation that the Lord has gone through, His wounds are healed. Has the Lenten journey made us aware of our wounds? Then Easter should let us participate in the joy of healing, which God bestows. What we celebrate on Good Friday is a hard truth that humans do wound, but the Risen Lord invites us to enter the experience of a new life where even the greatest of all wounds are healed. Unless we allow the light of the resurrection to penetrate our wounds, we shall continue to wound others even though at times unconsciously. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Lk. 23, 34) Our readiness to forgive those who hurt us will show our readiness to rise from the grave of our wounds.
God’s ultimate possibility
Nothing is impossible for God. This is demonstrated at Easter where God raises Jesus from death. In this way, He conquers the worst of all human enemies and opens a new and eternal horizon for humanity. Human destination is there where God creates everything anew. The destination of humanity is the participation in the life of the Creator. Easter is God’s ultimate possibility of giving life. Christians are called to imitate the God they worship by being on the side of life and resist all the agents of death. They may not raise the dead back to life, as some self-proclaimed prophets of our time are claiming, but as Matthew Kelly (2015) puts it: “Christians should be the ultimate people of possibility”. They have the duty of bringing the light of the resurrection into the many situations of impossibility. St. Peters urges us: “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet 3, 15).
The faith in the God of innumerable possibilities should be the reason for the hope we are to plant in situations of hopelessness. The joy of resurrection won’t end on Easter Sunday but will permeate our ordinary life. Christians are Easter-people wherever they are. It will be Easter where nations are ready to seek peaceful means of resolving their misunderstandings; it will be Easter when weapons can give way to dialogue and walls that separate people give way to bridges that bring them closer.
The journey continues
The Lenten journey, that seems to be coming to an end with the conclusion of the liturgical season, should in fact become our lifestyle. Through fasting, as Christians, we have proved ourselves capable of dying to our pleasures and disordered desires; our self-denial has reawakened in us the sensitivity to the needs of our brothers and sisters; through prayer, we have rediscovered the joy of being rooted in an intimate relationship with God; through the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, we have let ourselves be washed clean in order to reclaim our true identity as God’s beloved children; we have rediscovered the mercy of God which is greater than our sins and above all, we have come to experience in a special way that love, and not death, has the final word. The Lenten journey has been a wake-up-call not to give our hearts to the earthly things and concerns, which pass away but to look at the resurrection as our participation in the life of God’s true children. Nothing (not even death) can ever separate us from God. Halleluja!
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