Saint Maximus of Turin writes, ‘Christ is risen! He has burst open the gates of hell and let the dead go free; he has renewed the earth through the members of his Church now born again in baptism, and has made it blossom afresh with men [and women] brought back to life. His Holy Spirit has unlocked the doors of heaven, which stayed wide open to receive those who rise up from the earth.’
Easter is the solemnity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. From the Acts of the Apostles, we come to know the testimony of Saint Peter. It is written that, ‘Peter stood up with the Eleven and, with a loud voice, addressed themÖfellow Israelites, listen to what I am going to tell you about Jesus of Nazareth. God accredited him and through him did powerful deeds and wonders and signs in your midst, as well you know. You delivered him to sinners to be crucified and killed, and in this way the purpose of God from all times was fulfilled. But God raised him to life and in the power of death...this Messiah is Jesus and we are all witness that God raised him to life. He has been exalted at God’s right side and the Father has entrusted the Holy Spirit to him; this Spirit he has just poured upon us as you now see and hear’ (2,14; 22-24; 32-33).
With its Latin word ‘pascha,’ Easter means Passover. In its historical Hebrew connotation, it is the freedom of the Jewish people from their slavery in Egypt. Easter is our Passover from slavery of sin to salvation, from our death to our eternal life. Easter is the victory of Jesus from sin and from Satan. It is His triumph over death. And because of Him and through Him, we receive new life. We inherit heaven. We are now worthy to be called sons and daughters of God the Father. Saint Paul affirms and implores us, ‘constantly give thanks to the Father who has empowered us to receive our share in the inheritances of the saints in his kingdom of light. He rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. In him we are redeemed and forgiven’ (1, 12-14).
Easter is the affirmation and celebration that Jesus has been raised from the death. Easter confirms that the resurrection of Jesus is also our rising to new life. Jesus is our resurrection. Yes, we suffer as we have our Good Friday. Yes, we are betrayed and abandoned. There are pain and problems. There is hardship and suffering. We experience tragedies. We encounter crises. We face death. But we know that before us Jesus underwent all these terrible things. We know that Jesus overcame all these human afflictions. We believe that Jesus became victorious. He rose from death. He has risen. So we too will also rise with Him. Easter urges us to turn and trust Jesus. Easter inspires us to raise our will and spirit to God. Easter promises us new life as Jesus has won for us. With the resurrection of Jesus we have redemption. We can now return to the Father. We have been reconciled to Him. We are saved.
Easter proclaims that life is stronger than death and good is powerful than evil. Jesus has triumphed over evil and victorious over death. Easter tells us that Jesus is truly the promised Messiah who came to love and save us with His passion, death and resurrection. Thus we are released from the slavery to sins, from bondage of Satan, from imprisonment of death. With Jesus we are brought back to God, being led back to way of Heaven. And for us it means new beginning, another chance, and fresh opportunities. Our lives are now full of hope, fill of meaning and of love. We are saved. We are forgiven. We belong to God once again. God is with us. His grace is upon us. Our earthly pilgrimage is light and bearable. Our way to God is settle and smooth. Jesus has shown us the way. He leads us back where and to whom we must belong-to God our heavenly and merciful Father who is patiently waiting for us and ready to welcome us back once we reach the end of our earthly pilgrimage.
Easter invites us now to live a life of hope, of fidelity to God, and of total commitment to His divine plan. Easter asks us to walk the way of Jesus, leave behind the darkness of grief and doubts, to rise up from a life of negativity and mediocrity, and to look forward the promising new day fill with joy and grace. Death has no hold on Jesus. Satan has no power over Him. The reign of sin has ended. Jesus has risen. He rules. He is truly God and our real Savior. Jesus reigns. And Jesus rewards His faithful people with eternal life.
Saint John Chrysostom proclaims, ‘poor death, where is your sting? Poor hell, where is your triumph? Christ steps out of the tomb and you are reduced to nothing. Christ rises and the angels are wild with delight. Christ rises and the graves are emptied of the dead. Oh yes, for he broke from the tomb like a flower, a beautiful fruit: the first fruit of those already gone. All glory be his, all success and powerÖ forever and ever.’
With the resurrection of Jesus what awaits us is heavenly glory. What Jesus has we will have. What Jesus underwent we will also experience. Where Jesus is we will be. Saint Paul writes to the Romans, ‘by this baptism in his death, we were buried with Christ, and, as Christ was raised from among the dead by the Glory of the Father, so we begin walking in a new life. It was an image of his death when we are grafted in him, and so we will also share in his resurrection’ (6,4-5).
+Ruperto Cruz Santos
Bishop of Balanga