Dear brothers and sisters,
The Lord has risen! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! And lives among us! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
The great news of Easter Sunday resounds throughout the earth: Christ has risen! Although this news is twenty centuries old, it constitutes a permanent novelty in human history. Surely, this is why the primal tradition of the Paschal message, found in 1 Cor 15: 3-8, reported the events of the resurrection of Christ in the verb tense called perfect, which today can be classified as perfect continuous. By this usage, we know that the events in that Biblical text not only happened in the past, but continue even now. They are events which have already happened but whose repercussions are still current and will be seen permanently. Truly, the resurrection is not only an incident of the past but a reality of extraordinary consequences in our lives, for through Christ, risen and conqueror of death, human existence is opened to unprecedented hope. The horizon which we look upon now goes beyond death, for in the same way that Jesus has risen from the dead, all who believe will receive with Him life by virtue of the Holy Spirit. The resurrection of Christ is therefore, the beginning of the new humanity. It is the first day of the new creation.
The historical narration of the Gospels transmits two different facts: the open grave without the body of Jesus and the apparitions* of the Risen One. The Gospel accounts of the open and empty tomb of Jesus are not proofs of the resurrection, but rather signs which aided the women, the disciples and believers throughout history to understand the message of joy and hope: Christ has risen! The decisive testimonies of the Paschal event are given us by the diverse accounts of apparitions of the Risen One, where we can see that we are not dealing with subjective visions of those who witnessed it, but rather the extraordinary experiences of witnesses who saw Jesus after His resurrection from the dead. These witnesses were not visionaries, but people who were able to recognize in the Risen One, He who bears on his hands, feet and side the marks of the crucified One. They are not dealing with a ghost but a real person, whose identity is the same, but who is now definitely transfigured by the Resurrection.
The resurrection is God’s definite intervention in history that has brought about a quality transformation of human life. God has sealed the life of the crucified with a decisive victory. The corporal signs of Jesus, the marks of his crucifixion on his hands and side show the continuity between the historical Jesus and the risen one. However, the Risen One marks a discontinuity with the history of common mortals, since the novelty of life He has and which He communicates to humankind is no longer subject to death and is eternal.
This renders importance to the spirit of love and self-giving in which Jesus lived during his mortal life. His message of truth and justice, of peace and pardon could not be contained by the tomb of death. That is why God raised Him from the dead and through Him continues generating and communicating life, peace and fraternity among humanity. In the midst of suffering and human pain, the last word in history belongs to God, for through the resurrection of Christ, love, goodness, justice, truth, forgiveness, peace, fraternity, solidarity and joy have won the victory.
The resurrection of Christ is also the decisive transforming event for humanity in its evolutionary process, for it is the Spirit of Christ; his breath of life and His strength, which is infusing new vigor to humankind.
In the second account of creation of Genesis (Gen 2: 4-25), we are told that man received the breath of life from God and became a living being. In the same way, in the new creation, human beings receive the breath of life from Jesus and become a new creation. This qualitative change in humankind is a phenomenon of the Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead and which has convulsed the entire earth, diffusing everywhere the power of His love. This Spirit makes itself present in history in a singular way which generates new life. It is breath, air and articulated spirit, whose potency is vital.
As you have heard me say on several occasions, in the new creation after the resurrection of Christ, women acquire an exceptional role. They occupy a pivotal place in the genesis of the new humanity, for they were the first to receive the message of the resurrection. It was to them that the risen Jesus first appeared and they were the first who were entrusted to transmit the Paschal message, as they carried it to the disciples. The Gospel tells us that they remained faithful before the crucified One when all of the disciples abandoned Jesus, leaving Him in the decisive hour of death. It was the women, and not the disciples, who witnessed His burial. They uniquely manifested the heart wrenching pain and irrepressible longing for the absent loved one. Their unbroken fidelity to Jesus, even after death, made them guarantors of an extremely qualified witness in the nascent Church. Like them, all those who remain firm and robust in the face of pain and suffering become, par excellence, a witness to the resurrected humanity which has Christ as its first-fruit and constitutes the living hope for the definitive transformation of humanity.
May the attitude of perseverance, fidelity, and risk exemplified by the women of the Gospel; which revived the disciples of Jesus and made them run to announce the resurrection of Christ; strengthen us today and always in the task of announcing the Risen One to our Diocese and to the world.
Alberto, Quincy IX
* Apparition: The action of appearing