“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21)
The resurrection of Jesus is the be-all and end-all of our Christian faith. If Jesus had not risen from the dead, Fr. Okeke and I would just leave and get a job for ourselves. There would not have been anything like Christianity. As St. Paul rightly puts it, “If Jesus is not raised from the dead, our preaching is in vain and we are the most pitiable of all men.” The resurrection is the hinge upon which everything turns around.
The most important message for us today is that nothing Divine will ever die. That is why the resurrection of Jesus is his vindication. Death will never have a final say. Illness, poverty, war, COVID-19, and all manner of challenges that come our way, will never be the last word. It simply means that all our troubles can be transformed; can be redeemed. Jesus Christ, by rising from the dead, has overcome death and hell.
Jesus transformed death to the extent that death and life, now become two sides of the same coin. You cannot have one without the other. This is the pattern of existence. Each time you surrender, you refrain from putting yourself first, you give up something, you surrender your need to control your partner, you let go of anger, you will discover how happier you become. Because each of those time you are letting go or giving up or surrendering, is actually a kind of dying. You cannot understand what life is until you first understand death. So, if you find it difficult to trust the dying, it will be difficult to trust the living.
St. Paul says that, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). When you look around you and see how things happen, you will see that this singular Christ’s event of the resurrection has become a universal pattern. For any growth to take place, there must be, first, the dying to the present state. It is always a risk. But at the end, there is newness of life. This is how things work. So, the resurrection is not just a Christian thing. It is a pattern of life; of existence.
What this means is that we do not need to be afraid of death anymore and all the dangers which this world is posing to us. We have a God who knows the way out of the grave. Each moment you are down and at your lowest ebb, just remember this. Every message about Jesus is a message about all of us. The story of resurrection is our own story too.
Today is the feast of hope and community. We are people of hope. God does not lose. God’s victory is the victory. It is a victory that brings hope to our world. Know this and know peace. When Christ destroyed death, he destroyed the death of all of us. This is our common hope.
WE ARE EASTER PEOPLE! ALLELUIA IS OUR SONG!
Fr. Charles Chidiebere Mmaduekwe