|4/12/2017 9:00:00 AM|
BY BISHOP EDWARD B. SCHARFENBERGERThe sorrowful events of Holy Week lead to an unexpected and explosive outburst of joy on Easter Sunday.
This is more than just a happening. It's an existential upheaval, a cosmological earthquake that upends the natural course of the human life cycle and transforms death itself into the door to eternal life.
The dead Jesus who was raised up on a cross rises in the glory of His still-human, still-scarred body, which now takes on the beauty and eternity of His divine nature that was hidden from our sight before He died.
In one sense, Jesus has never changed. He is the same Jesus conceived by the Holy Spirit in His mother Mary's womb. He is the same Jesus who taught and healed, lived and suffered, on the same ground that we all tread and to which we all return.
But His reality is more than what happened to Him until He died. The real Jesus is not just history, a story to read about or to be depicted in paintings; not just a text or a snapshot; but alive in all His glory, today and forever.
The dead and risen Christ are one and the same.
On Easter morning, this began to dawn on His closest followers. Their first reaction was, naturally, as ours would be, fear and denial -- not because this happened, but because things like this do not happen.
They would have been right, were Jesus only who they had thought He was. But Jesus turned out to be more. He rose to be who He always said He was -- "I am the resurrection and the life" -- had they been listening with their ears fully opened and seeing with the eyes of faith.
The Word made flesh, revealed to them and to us, is the eternal Word of God whose risen glory lifts all of us up from death to eternal life. Christ's victory over death is ours in which to rejoice.
The Gospel comes to life on Easter Sunday. The Good News is that Jesus Christ is Lord, the only Lord of history -- because He is not just "history," a story of the past, but the eternal prince of peace and justice, the Savior of us all.
What Jesus did -- in time -- were signs of who He is and what He does for mortal lives. He is the forever-friend of sinners, of broken hearts and limbs that, calling on Him as Lord and doing His will, enter into His eternal glory.
This pilgrimage of life is our way to heaven.
Baptized into the death of Jesus, we rise to the eternal life that He not only promised to those who fell under His earthly shadow, but who are washed in the blood and eater flowing from His crucified side, the sacramental life of the Church.
We live in Christ, through Christ and for Christ: our life, our death and our heaven.
In every broken voice and disfigured face we meet, we encounter and contemplate Jesus, who is and was and will be forever. But all the suffering comes to an end, and death is not it.
Our patience, just as the patience of Christ, will reap the rewards of faith and perseverance. Every Good Friday leads to an Easter Sunday. All that rises must converge. Life, not death, has the final say.
We who look upon the cross, and every human cross, with love and compassion and do not turn our backs on the suffering one will behold the glory of the risen one in the face.
We do not die. Jesus is Lord -- our Lord, forever. Happy Easter!
(Follow the Bishop at www.facebook.com/AlbanyBishopEd and on Twitter @AlbBishopEd.)
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