HE IS ALIVE TO DIE NO MORE
“Then Simon Peter … went into the tomb; he saw the linen clothes lying, and the napkin, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself.”
On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb … Then Simon Peter … went into the tomb; he saw the linen clothes lying, and the napkin, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself (John 20: 1, 5) .
The above narrative by John in the Gospel of today captures the earliest sight or evidence of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, who was rejected by His own people, condemned in a Kangaroo court, suffered under Pontius Pilate, crucified, died and was buried. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ was a historical event that was unexpected, unprecedented and mysterious. Among many historians who have attested to the Resurrection of Jesus was Flavius Josephus, a Jew and Roman citizen, and one of the earliest historians recorded this in his Testimonium Flavianum: “When Pilate upon the accusation of the first men amongst us, condemned Jesus to be crucified, those who had formerly loved Him did not cease (to follow Him), for He appeared to them on the third day, living again, as the divine prophets foretold, along with a myriad of other marvelous things concerning Him.” The historian Flavius attests to the fact that after three day Jesus was “living again.” That means Jesus was alive again. The “empty tomb” as witnessed by Mary Magdalene and the two apostles: Peter and John, and many others is an affirmation to the fact that Jesus, because He was alive again could not have been found or could not have remained in the tomb. Tombs are for the dead, not for the living. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the Resurrection of Jesus is a transcendent intervention of God Himself in creation and history (CCC. 648). As a mystery the Resurrection of Jesus cannot be fully comprehended by mere human intelligence without recourse to faith – only by faith can man understands the things of God.
The Resurrection of Jesus was a confirmation of Jesus’ identity as the True Son of God. As God, Jesus effects His own resurrection by virtue of His divine power. In John 10: 17-18, Jesus explicitly stated: “I lay down My life that I may take it up again … I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it up again.”
The Resurrection of Jesus was also an event in fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament and of Jesus about Himself. St. Paul told the Jews: “What God promised our ancestors He would do, this He has fulfilled to us their children, by raising Jesus from the dead” (Acts 13: 32-33). Again Paul wrote (1 Corinthians 15: 4) that “He was raised in accordance with the Scriptures.” Pope Benedict XVI explains this text thus: “The essential point is that the Resurrection itself is in accordance with the Scriptures – that it forms part of the whole promise that in Jesus became, not just word, but reality.” The Angel in Matthew 28: 6 told Mary Magdalene and the other women “He is not here, for He is risen as He said.” Yes, Jesus Himself had earlier predicted His Passion, Death and Resurrection. We read in Matthew 16: 21: From that day Jesus began to make it clear to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem … and be killed, and raised on the third day.
The Resurrection is the very foundation of our faith as Christians. As St. Paul puts it: If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is empty and your faith comes to nothing (1 Corinthians 15: 14). The Resurrection of Christ is an assurance of our Justification and Redemption; we become children of the Father, citizens of heaven, heirs of the Kingdom set free from the powers of sin and death. The Resurrection opens us therefore to a new life of grace, where we walk by faith and not by sight.
What must we do to benefit more from the Resurrection of Christ? St. Paul tells us in the Second Reading: “Seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” We are called to be new creatures washed and redeemed by the Blood of the spotless Lamb, Who is alive to die no more.