These Easter days are days of remembering. They are days of thanksgiving. These are Easter days – days of joy. We believe and we proclaim that Christ is alive, that he is risen. We believe that Christ is at the heart of the world still and that the story of the world is one of God’s creation, of our fall from grace, of the word taking flesh in the Incarnation, of our being freed, redeemed from suffering and death and of resurrection and of new creation. It is good to be alive because all of life and all of suffering and even death itself is in God’s hands. We have simply to respond in faith and in love however imperfect our responses are.
Even from the grave Jesus speaks to us of hope. He emerges from the stonesealed tomb to speak to us of new life, of transfiguration and of re-creation. Whatever our feelings or mood Jesus promises to accompany us on our journey and to lead us through the fire of suffering, across the bridge of death and into the fulfilment of his promise of eternal life. The God we believe in is a God of life, a God who is with us – even to the end of time. It is good to be alive and great to celebrate when we believe that the journey of life is steeped in meaning and significance and that suffering has been transformed and death has been neutralised.
The poet and preacher John Donne once wrote: Death, be not proud, though some have called thee / Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; / For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow / Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me… / One short sleep past, we wake eternally, / And death shall be no more: Death, thou shalt die.
It is a blessed thing to be gifted with a faith that takes the sting from death; that directs us on the pilgrimage that is life and that makes living meaningful and worthwhile. This is what Christ has done for us. He came out of love to show us how much we are loved by the Father. He came to teach us and tell us that we are children of the one Father, that his father is Our Father. He came to tell us that we are loved to a depth and with such feeling that even a violent and cruel death could not destroy or end such love. There is no wrongdoing that his love cannot transform, no darkness that his light cannot penetrate; no cruelty that can stand in God’s redeeming way. He demands only that those who believe in what he revealed about the father; who have been touched by his love should follow his example in pouring out their lives for God and for others. The life and the legacy of Christ is that love is what transforms; love is what redeems; love is what lasts.
By Fr. Michael Murtagh