After Old Testament Readings; Eighth Reading: Rom 6:3-11; Psalm: 118. R. v. Alleluia; Gospel: Mt 28:1-10
THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
Tonight is the holiest of all nights because Easter is here again. What happened on this night of the resurrection explains the holiness of this night. Because this is the night we celebrate our freedom from slavery to becoming freeborn Christians. This is the night that has set all Christian believers both the living and the dead free from the vices of the world and uniting them with the saints in heaven. This is the night that the whole world was recreated again as in the beginning by the rising of Christ from the dead. Take away what happened on this night; there will be no Church, no faith, no Christianity.
The eighth readings and psalms in tonight’s celebration depict our long journey to this night of salvation. Like the long journey of Israel’s people from the land of slavery to the land of freedom. However, for some pastoral reasons, these eight readings may be reduced. Moreover, the Church emphasised that if these readings must be reduced, the third reading from Exodus chapter fourteen must not be omitted. This is because of the symbolic meaning of this reading to the character of tonight’s celebration. For the passing of Israel’s people through the Red Sea foreshadowed the washing away of sins through baptismal water; the very mystery we celebrate today.
St Paul, in the eighth reading of tonight taken from the New Testament highlighted how the death of Christ became a sacramental figure in the celebration of the sacrament of baptism when he said, “All of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death. We were buried therefore with him by baptism into his death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” So, just as God breached the Red Sea to save Israel’s people from bondage; Christ had to die to save us from the bondage of sin. The death of Christ therefore is the pathway to newness of life. So if Christ had not risen from the dead, our salvation would not have been completed.
We saw the power of the resurrection in the gospel reading of tonight. It was powerful and divine. The stone covering the tomb was not rolled away by man but by an angel. The earth shook in submission to this heavenly power. The powers of men failed as the guards guiding the tomb trembled and fell and became like dead men. And Jesus rose from the dead with a glorified body. This power of the resurrection that conquered the impossible lives in us who were baptised into Christ Jesus. So the rising of Christ from the dead was not only a symbol of our rising into new life but also a gift of faith and hope to the baptised.
Before Jesus was arrested and crucified, he promised his disciples that he would be killed and on the third day rise again. Obviously, his disciples did not believe this. For they all dispersed at Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. They thought all hope was lost. But very early on the first day of the week; three days on, Jesus rose from the dead as he promised.
The doubt and despair of the disciples that Jesus would rise again could remind us of how we sometimes lose faith and hope that life would get better when we face certain crises in life. How we often go our own way seeking life elsewhere and walking away from God. But the Easter story should remind us that the power of the resurrection lives in us. That power to believe, to hope, and to trust in Jesus who against all odds conquered death and rose again to life; giving us the assurance that he never fails in his promises. So whenever we are tempted to lose hope in life, we should remember the Easter story.
Presently, it could be that we are weighed down by certain challenges in life. Maybe in our families, work places, relationships or even personal crisis. But amidst these challenges of life, we should never forget that the power of the resurrection lives in us. That power to believe, hope and trust that Jesus who against all odds overcame death would also help us to overcome those challenges weighing us down. We are Easter people because we were baptised into Christ’s death and rose to new life by his resurrection. The gift of faith and hope that we received by this divine action is enough to conquer all the challenges that life throws at us. Christ has given us victory. And this victory should be our Easter song.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Risen Lord, may the power of your resurrection revive our faith and hope in you. Amen.