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home : opinion : perspectives

4/27/2017 8:30:00 AM
REFLECTION
Found: a remedy for death
GOOD FRIDAY AT ST. THOMAS PARISH, CHERRY VALLEY
GOOD FRIDAY AT ST. THOMAS PARISH, CHERRY VALLEY
BY REV. JOHN YANAS


In the year 1815, a promising young English writer, Mary Shelley, penned a novel which is considered by critics past and present to be a literary masterpiece: the Gothic horror tale "Frankenstein."

In writing the novel, the author was undoubtedly influenced by a strange phenomenon of the time: body snatching. Grave robbers acting as mercenaries prowled cemeteries, seeking a supply of fresh corpses.

How does one account for such ghoulish, macabre acts of vandalism? In a word, science. The robbers sold corpses to eager scientists who conducted medical experiments on the cadavers.

Some scientists, excited about the prospects that newly-discovered electricity afforded, were of the view that an electrical current was just what was needed to reawaken the dead.

Fast-forward to 2002, the year that legendary Hall of Fame baseball player Ted Williams died. His son insisted that his head be frozen in the uncertain hope that that he could be brought back to life someday. Hope springs eternal!

For at least three centuries, scientists have been seeking a remedy for death. To say the least, solving the riddle of our mortality has been a formidable challenge for our brightest minds. Yet they continue to draw blanks.

On the night of the Easter vigil Mass, the Church boldly proclaimed that, indeed, a remedy had been found. In Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead, death had been overcome.

By His glorious resurrection, our Lord broke the prison bars of death. Recall the old memorial acclamation at Sunday Mass: "Dying, you destroyed our death; rising, you restored our life."

In St. Paul's letter to the Christian community at Rome, he wrote: "We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over Him." St. Paul's triumphant words led the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen to declare that it was not Christ who died on the cross -- it was death that died.

What would it mean if the resurrection of Jesus had not taken place? The story of Jesus would have ended on a Friday afternoon. His body would have decomposed and He would likely have been forgotten a generation later.

But the Father, the creator of all that exists, raised up Jesus. In Jesus, the words of the psalmist are realized: "You will not let your holy one see corruption" (Ps 16:10). The Father gave life back to Christ -- a new and glorious life -- and, in Him, gives life to the world.

In the reading on Easter Sunday from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard the words of the Apostle Peter: "This man God raised on the third day." One of the most remarkable and consoling messages of Easter is that death does not have the final word; nor does evil have the final say.

Death is not an exit into nothingness. The tomb is no longer frightening, because it is empty. Christ did not remain in the tomb. He belongs to the world of the living. In the resurrection of Jesus, the astonishing prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled: God "will destroy death forever" (Is 25:8).

On Palm Sunday this year, 45 Coptic Christians were murdered by terrorists in Egypt. Perhaps the misguided criminals considered their despicable act a victory of sorts. After all, only infidels were killed! Such was their warped state of mind.

If so, they are sadly mistaken. As St. Paul said: "Are you not aware that we who are baptized into Christ are baptized into His death? We were indeed buried with Him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we, too, might live in newness of life. For if we have grown into union with Him through a death like His, we shall also be united with Him in the resurrection" (Rom 6:3-5).

In the risen Christ, we are assured of victory. Death is our passover to a new and glorious life!

(Father Yanas is pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Troy.)





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