Solemnity of Easter. April 5th 2015.
Acts 10:34,37-43; 1Cor 5:6-8; Jn 20:1-9
The faith that conquers all evils
A german-wing pilot apparently purposely crashes his airplane into the mountains. Reports indicate that he had been emotionally unstable in the past and even suicidal. There are many questions on our minds like, “How come he was still allowed to fly airplanes? What is to be gained by killing innocent passengers?” There are many such questions but very little answers.
Al-Shabaab gunmen attack a university in Kenya and kill close to 150 Christian students and workers. There were warning signs about the attack. Again, why were those warning signs not taken seriously and the campuses appropriately defended? How does killing innocent students support the cause of the terrorists? There are many such questions but very little answers.
There is no doubt that we are living in a world of evil. We do evils and we experience evils. And we neither understand why we do them or why we experience them in this world. The numerous manifestations of evil in the world remind us that “the whole world is under the power of the evil one.” (1Jn 5:19) The story of evil in our lives makes us lament like St. Paul, “For I do not do the good that I want, but I do the evil that I do not want.”(Rom 7:19) Evil rears its ugly head both in our personal and global history.
What does today’s solemnity tell us about evil? What light does the Resurrection shed on the timeless question about evil in our lives and in the world?
Let us reflect on the brief story of Jesus’ life in today’s Second Reading. St. Peter’s speech to the Pagan Cornelius about His crucified Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, highlights three things about the life of Christ. First, by the power of God, Jesus did good to all: “He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” Secondly, Jesus experienced unexplainable evil in this world: “They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree.” Thirdly, He was raised from the dead: “This man God raised on the third day and granted that He be visible.”
St. Peter further illustrates how Jesus faced evil in this world: “He did no wrong; no deceit was found in His mouth. When He was insulted, He returned no insult. When He was made to suffer, He did not counter with threats. Instead He delivered Himself up to the One who judges justly.”(1Pet 2:22-23) The evil that Jesus suffered in this life and in death had no power over Him because after all that He did and endured, He handed Himself to the Father who responded by raising Him from the dead.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us reflect today on the quality of our faith. We believe in Jesus Christ and we believe that He died and rose from the dead. But do we have a resurrection faith that believes that it is our faith in Him alone that conquers all evils that we do and endure, even the evil of death? The resurrection is not an event or something that happens apart from Jesus as He said, “I am the Resurrection and the life.” (Jn 11:25) St. Peter hints at the power of this resurrection faith to overcome our sins: “Everyone who believes in Him has forgiveness of sins through His name.”
What does this resurrection faith look like and how can we begin to nurture this faith in ourselves? First, such a faith begins in believing every single thing that is revealed in scriptures and infallibly interpreted by the Magisterium of the Church. Faith comes from revelation and not from popular opinion or suggestions. Secondly, it is a faith that is expressed in that obedience of faith acting through love. In this level, we strive to act on what we believe and do so out of love for the one who lovingly reveals it to us. Lastly, it is a faith that breeds such a trust that we entrust and abandon ourselves completely and all the details of our lives to the one whom we believe in knowing that He cares for all aspects of our lives. Only such a resurrection faith can lead us to share in Christ’s victory over all evil, especially the evil of death.
Without this resurrection faith, we will be so fixated on the evil of our world that we fail to notice the resurrection experience in the horizon. We see this exaggeration and fixation on evil in the words of Mary of Magdala in today’s Gospel: “They have taken the Lord from the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.” An empty tomb became for her a sign of the heartless perpetuation of the evil of the crucifixion rather than a proof of God’s acting to bring His Son back to life. Lacking resurrection faith at that moment, they failed to realize that in Jesus Christ the Resurrection is a must and that “Jesus had to rise from the dead.”
In this world, we shall surely do and experience evils that we cannot explain. The resurrection is not an answer to the question of evil but an invitation to share in Christ’s own victory over evil. We share in this victory if we have a faith that goes beyond believing articles of the faith or obeying ethical commands but one that must include our complete entrustment of ourselves to the One who alone rose from the dead knowing that we can trust in Him to bring us from the grave to the fullness of life.
Our vocation is to be like Mary who believed everything that the angel Gabriel revealed to her, including the truth that she would be both virgin and mother of God by the grace of God. She also acted on all that she believed and entrusted herself completely to the One who lovingly revealed His plan to her: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.” This is the language and spirit of the resurrection faith that conquers all evils.
In this Eucharist as in every single Eucharist, we enter into communion with the Risen Christ, the source of our resurrection faith in this world of evils. Every Eucharist is an Easter experience as we proclaim: “Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again.” The world maybe under the power of the evil one but God always has the final word. In this Eucharist, as on Calvary, Jesus entrusts Himself to the Father and beckons on us to enter into His own self entrustment to the Father and to share in His victory over sin, suffering and death.
I wish you all a Happy Easter!! Above all, I wish you all a resurrection faith. We will surely need this faith in this world of unexplainable evils.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!