THE JOY OF THE RESURRECTION
Reading the accounts of Jesus’ appearances to his disciples after his resurrection, two major themes appear – transformation and exodus.
First, Jesus’ followers were transformed by their encounters with the Risen Christ. Once fearful, they become courageous; once uncertain, they become confident; once downhearted, they become filled with joy; once doubting they are filled with faith that Jesus indeed is the Lord and that by his resurrection he ushers in a new era in which death has not the last word. In their encounters with the risen Lord, they became convinced that he is indeed the One sent by God to save and draw all people into the one Family of God
This transforming power of the resurrection is available to us today when we open ourselves up to the fruits of the resurrection.
“The proof that God raised Jesus from the dead is not the empty tomb, but the full hearts of his transformed disciples. The crowning evidence that he lives is not a vacant grave, but a spirit-filled fellowship; not a rolled away stone, but a carried-away Church…..” (Clarence Jordan: www.patheos.com)
Pope Francis reminds us in Evangelii Gaudium that Christ’s resurrection is not an event of the past; something that happened to Jesus 2000 years ago. Rather it is a vital power, an irresistible force permeating the world. He reminds us that there are signs of resurrection everywhere transforming situations of injustice, evil, indifference and cruelty. He says: “Where all seems to be dead, signs of the resurrection suddenly spring up. However dark things are, goodness always re-emerges and spreads”. (EG 276). And we, missionary disciples, are instruments of that transformation.
Exodus, sending forth to spread the Good News is the second theme permeating these readings. Jesus gives his disciples their mission – to go out, to leave their comfort zones and to become witnesses to the power of the resurrection. To Mary Magdalene and the women he says: “Go, tell the disciples and Peter” (Mark 16: 1-8); to the gathered disciples: “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you” (John 20: 19-25); to Peter: “Feed my lambs… feed my sheep” (John 21: 1-25). He sends them out but also promises that he will never abandon them: “Go, make disciples of all nations and behold I am with you always, even until the end of time” (Matthew 28).
This is the mission that we receive too. The Risen Christ is among us empowering us to be instruments of resurrection and new life wherever we are:
“He penetrates the entire cosmos,
pervades the whole world,
and makes his presence felt in every human being.
Wherever an authentically human life is growing in the world,
wherever justice is triumphing over the instincts of domination,
wherever grace is winning out over the power of sin,
wherever human beings are creating more fraternal mediations
in the social life together,
wherever love is getting the better of selfish interests,
and wherever hope is resisting the lure of cynicism or despair,
there the process of resurrection
is being turned into a reality”. (Leonardo Boff Archives. Inwardoutward.org)
Pope Francis says: “We are men and women of resurrection, and not of death. We are people of hope. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the basis of our hope! Let us not deprive the world of the joyful message of the resurrection!”
(Ecumenical Celebration in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. Jerusalem, 25 May 2014).