By Father Eleazar Silva
Despite the great joy of knowing that Jesus is risen, his disciples were not able to understand what ‘to be risen from the dead’ meant. Human experiences are always accompanied with a sense of death. Each time we end something – we finish reading a book or we say goodbye to a friend – we die a little.
Sometimes these small deaths seem to pull us down and blur as the light of the joyful hope of the resurrection. We are so used to dying that when we hear about the eternal life we don’t know what ‘life forever’ means.
When the risen Jesus appears to the disciples, he tries to prove that he is the Living One, and that he has risen from the dead. We must make sure that we know that the Lord’s resurrection is not just being back to life. The resurrection is the entrance of Jesus, a man like us, to the glory of God. The preacher from Galilee who demonstrated within himself being God, with his humanity completely evident to God and to his brothers and sisters, doesn’t exist anymore in a world that is a prisoner of time and space. Now flesh and blood exists in God. He is eternal as the Father, in the flesh that once died and now lives forever.
This is what is probably hard for us to understand, that a man is no longer related to sickness, to defeat and pain, and now he lives forever. The resurrection takes each of the human experiences into God’s plan. Here is where evil is defeated by good, hope floods defeat, love defeats hate and life conquers death. If the death of Jesus on the Cross is the question of every man to God about why there is evil, the resurrection is the answer. Each experience that man lives and that tastes of death has a fate: the resurrection. Like Jesus, we cry to laugh, we suffer to have joy, we feel pain to heal, we go astray to be forgiven, we die to be resurrected. It doesn’t matter how big and powerful death seems, as with Jesus’ life, the life that God has prepared for all of us, is always greater and deeper.
When the disciples saw their Lord resurrected, they began to understand and believe. Their senses were not tricking them. It was him, once dead, now alive forever. We, his disciples, need to also learn to believe. Maybe in our mind this truth is very present: "I wait for the resurrection of dead and the life of the world to come." But is this in our thoughts and feelings? Believing in risen Jesus is believing in the new eternal life that resurrection brings. It is to live as he lived, with a clear conscience that everything is in God’s hands; even if it seems lost it will be a win. It is to learn to live with the freedom of love and forgiveness, faith and hope.
Fr. Silva is parochial vicar of the Cathedral of the Madeleine.