Things Jesus Never Said Week 1
I typically do not like to repeat myself, but it is so worth saying, let’s say it again: Happy Easter Everyone!
Easter reminds us of one of the things Jesus never said. He never said “This is the end.” Jesus’ overcoming of death for you is what Easter is all about.
Jesus rising from the dead on Easter is his personal, living testimony that he is truly the Son of God. And Easter tells us this earthly life is not the end. Death is analogous to a turn in the road, that life moves down a continual moving river, and that death is just a little turn in the river, that this earthly life is merely prelude to a new awakening, that death is not a period which ends this great sentence of life, but a comma that punctuates life into loftier significance.
This is the truth of Easter!
That is why today we gather to celebrate the most magnificent event in human history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Unlike any other moment in human history, the resurrection of God’s Son opened up a new world of possibilities for us. It made us aware of our eternal destiny – to live forever in friendship with God. It made us dare to dream of an entire life charged with the presence of God.
Today’s gospel tells us that Mary Magdalene went out to the tomb “while it was still dark”. That darkness is symbolic of how the world was before the resurrection of Jesus. It was a world plunged in darkness, unaware of God’s love and his plan for humanity. Up to that time, many people believed that there was life after death; however, they did not consider it a pleasant experience. Rather, the afterlife was a place of darkness and gloom. The Jews called the place of the dead “sheol” and described it as “the pit”. Pagans called the afterlife “hades”. It was nothing to look forward to. To them, our life on earth was as good as it was going to get.
But all that changed the first Easter Sunday. By raising Jesus from the dead, God revealed our eternal destiny to us. We will also one day be raised from the dead – not just our souls but our bodies – and live forever in heaven. Heaven is not a place of gloom and sorrow but a place of goodness, truth, beauty, and joy. It is where we achieve our heart’s desire for union with God. It is where justice will finally prevail, and every tear will be wiped away. When Jesus rose from the dead a whole new world of possibilities opened up for us. We have a new hope that one day we will join Jesus in a life where death and suffering can no longer touch us.
Jesus’ resurrection did not just reveal to us the possibility of life after death. It also revealed to us a whole new horizon for our life on earth. On the cross, Jesus our Savior conquered the great enemies of humanity – sin and death. Because of that, we believe, in faith, that there is no enemy that cannot be conquered in Jesus Christ. We are not just sitting around waiting for him to come back and make everything right. Instead we are struggling against injustice in all its forms because God’s Son has won the victory of justice. We work for peace because Jesus overcame every form of division on the cross..
All things are possible for those who have faith. It is precisely the resurrection of Jesus Christ which has inspired us to dream of a world that is marked by justice and peace.
That first Easter Sunday changed everything. However, there are still people who live in darkness. They are unaware of the hope that is offered them through faith in the Lord. They are still living as if this life is all there is. They are still living in fear because they do not know that Jesus is already victorious. It is up to us to point them to the truth.
We can do that with confidence because the joy we have in Christ is so much greater than whatever pleasures this world has to offer. The hope that we have in Jesus is the answer to the lack of meaning that so many people live with today. Faith in Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, is the answer to all the anguish of the human heart because we know the end of the story of salvation, and it is not death. Jesus never said “This is the end.”
The tomb is empty. That is what Mary Magdalene discovered that first Easter morning. Saint Peter and Saint John saw it for themselves. The reason that the tomb is empty is because Christ is risen, risen from the dead. All of us will still one day experience physical death. But, like Jesus, our tombs will one day be empty because he has promised to raise us up from death – body and soul – to live with him forever. It is the resurrection of Jesus that opens up this possibility for us. It makes our lives on this earth so much bigger. It gives us the inspiration to dream of, and work toward, a world charged with God’s love and justice.
As we continue to celebrate Easter, let’s all pray a special Easter prayer together. We will give all of you copies of this prayer after Mass today, so you can pray it with your family and friends. We now pray:
I praise you my God! Thank you, Father, for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord! Thank you for His victory over sin and death! Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who fills us with abundant life in Jesus Christ, the Risen One!
In this Easter moment, please help us to completely open our hearts to you and your magnificent power! Raise us up to the fullness of life in Christ, so that everything we think, say or do will be charged with your presence and your justice. Let us be immersed in you, holding nothing back, devoted to spreading the joy of the Gospel, for the life of the world. Amen.