The glory of Christ’s Resurrection
Today is Easter Sunday. The greatest mystery of Christendom is the Resurrection of Jesus on the third day after His death on the cross on Good Friday. The Resurrection celebrates the greatest feast of the Christians because it is the Rising of Jesus from the grave on which the Christian faith stands on. Simply put, if there is no Resurrection, the Christian religion would just be another of those among many others, a mere worldly belief or philosophy of a human leader. Jesus born as man, was God incarnate and this fact is proved in His Resurrection.
The apostles of Jesus who hid themselves for fear of the Jews came to the limelight as brave men to preach the Resurrection of Jesus their master. But it was after the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost day that they started to behave fearlessly. Not only those who saw and heard Jesus during His life became His followers, there were others who had never heard of Him or seen Him who began to follow Him. It was the Resurrection that gave the impetus for the new faith to begin and survive. That Jesus is alive was the bottom line of the preaching of His disciples. This belief of a dead man being alive was based on His Resurrection. St. Paul who started to persecute the followers of Jesus himself experienced this living Jesus on the road to Damascus, which steered his change from persecutor to defender and preacher.
The Risen Jesus did not appear to all after His rising but a selected few and it is St. Paul who says that He appeared to a few, who were pre-destined by God. Our human minds speculate that had Jesus appeared to Pilate or the high priests to prove that He did not die, He would have proved to them that He was indeed God. In fact like strands of legend surrounding the birth and death of Jesus which appear in Apocryphal and non-canonical writings, one says that He appeared to the servant of the high priest and handed over His burial cloth.
“If Christ did not rise, our faith is in vain,” says St. Paul. It was this single act of uniqueness that gave strength to the once cowardly apostles to die for their faith. St. Thomas did not at first believe in the rising of Jesus, but changed his mind after being asked to put his finger into His side after which he acclaimed the Risen Jesus as “My Lord and my God”, an acclamation repeated daily at the Eucharistic service to this day. Jesus’s reply to him “ Thomas, you believe because you have seen, blessed are those who have not seen Me but believe ” is a validation for us who believe in Him.
The Risen Jesus appeared to all His apostles on many occasions. In fact Jesus during His public life of three years foretold His rising from death, which the apostles did not understand then. The reference to Jonah who lived three days in the whale’s belly, the reference to “destroy this building and I will rebuild it in three days” are just two of many. It was only after the Resurrection that they recalled these words.
His Transfiguration on Thabor gave the three apostles, Peter, James and John a glimpse of His Resurrected glory. St. Peter recalled the incident many years later when he wrote, “We saw His glory on the holy mountain.”
The Resurrection of Jesus is a surety that we too would rise one day in glory at the ‘Resurrection of the body and life everlasting’, the last article in the Nicene Creed. His Resurrection is the proof of our everlasting life. That is why we conclude the prayer Angelus with the invocation, “That by His passion and cross, we may be brought to the glory of His Resurrection”.