We celebrate Easter at a time of the year when Nature awakens from her long winter sleep and new life is beginning to spring forth. The early Spring flowers – snow drops, crocuses and daffodils- shyly make their appearance, adding colour and new life to an apparently dead winter landscape. Nature proclaims that death is not the end but rather a necessary prelude to new life. This never-ending cycle of death and rebirth is Nature’s way. All living things are destined to die so that new life can emerge. Jesus tells us this clearly: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit”
Death leading to new life is built into the very fabric of the universe. Scientific discoveries in the last one hundred years or so, reveal a truly awe – inspiring story of how the universe came to be, how, out of death and destruction came the creation of billions of galaxies, stars and planets including our own wonderful Earth home. The new story invites us to contemplate in awe and wonder the amazing fact that all life originated in destruction and death – the death of stars. We now know that the carbon, nitrogen and oxygen atoms found in every created being on Earth, including humans, were produced originally in stars that died billions of years ago. We are alive because stars died. We literally come from the stars.
As the universe which has become conscious of itself and reflects on itself, we humans participate in this life/death dynamic. From the first moment of our existence, we experience loss and the pain of having to let go so that we can grow and develop. Death and resurrection are not single, dramatic moments but rather on-going processes. Our lives consist of daily deaths and daily risings. When, like the tree in Autumn we willingly let go of what is dead in us, we are living resurrection. The mystic poet Rumi exhorts: “Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop.”
We live resurrection when we let go of old mindsets, believing that only we have the truth; when we refuse to hold onto angers and resentments; when we generously forgive those whom we believe may have wronged us; when we have the courage to speak for the voiceless and denounce injustice; when we stand up for those who are oppressed. Leonardo Boff expresses resurrection in these words:
“Wherever in mortal life goodness triumphs over the instincts of hatred, wherever one heart opens to another, wherever a righteous attitude it built and room is created for God, there the resurrection has begun.”
Our world today is in dire need of the hope of the resurrection. We are living in a moment of history where death seems to be winning, where wars, poverty, the huge threat to life on Earth of climate change can fill us with despair. But faith in the Resurrection can renew our conviction that the forces of injustice and oppression will not prevail. Faith in the resurrection can encourage us to do our part in “rolling away the stone” – the obstacles to life in abundance promised to us and to the whole of creation. “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full” (John 10.10)
Questions for reflection
What old habits and beliefs would I have to let die in order for new life to be born?
What would a resurrected life look like, feel like, for me? for those with whom my life is woven? for our planet?