Headline: The Rehearsal Before The Alleluia

Posted on: 2015-04-19

Matters of first importance

Easter is the central and most important celebration in Christendom. Had Jesus Christ not resurrected, there would have been little power or meaning in the mysteries of Christianity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) reads: "The resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community; handed on as fundamental by Tradition; established by the documents of the New Testament and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the cross" (CCC 638). Saint Paul had already established this fact in many teachings in his letters. He wrote to the Corinthians: "I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve..." (1Cor. 15: 3-4). The resurrection of Christ is the reward for those who stick with him through thick and thin and still like everyone else have to confront sin and death, the two greatest enemies of man. "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Cor. 15: 56)

The tough questions of Good Friday

The resurrection of Jesus Christ has solid existential and practical relevance to concrete human situations. Such existential questions are indeed many. Why does bad things happen to good people. What does one do when bad things happen to good people? What do you do when you get betrayed, rebuked and scorned by the people you trust most? How do you explain it when you see innocent people and children massacred by terrorist activities. How do you find meaning in a world where diseases and disasters ravage millions of helpless people with little hope of recovery? How can you survive the conspiracy of the powers that ought to know better when they all array against the innocent? The passion of Jesus Christ which culminated in the events of Good Friday asked all these same questions. Everyone of the tribulations of the world today can find meaning only in the experience of the Suffering Servant as the Bible relates  "Surely he has borne our grief and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced  for our transgressions; he was crushed  for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed" (Is. 53: 4-5). The story of Good Friday would have ended with only sorrow tears and blood, but fortunately the answers of Easter Sunday denied evil the final victory for ever. 

The answers of Easter Sunday

The answers of Easter Sunday confounded were given when all the conspiracies of evil, falsehood and darkness. The conversation between Pilate and the crowd which ended in the "crucify him" judgment for the innocent and the "we want Barabbas" verdict for the criminal sum up the eternal confrontation between fairness and injustice. No other tomb in the world had been so secured as Jesus' was. Nonetheless the stone, the seal, and the soldiers, all failed to suppress the truth. Jesus had the final word. That answer is still as valid today as ever. What do you think could be the immediate sentiments of a man, wrongly accused and punished for the best years of his life who gets suddenly released to walk free. That was Anthony Ray Hinton 58, who last week after spending 30 years on the death row in Alabama, America was found to have been unjustly condemned. Mr. Hinton walked out of the Jefferson County Jail in Birmingham, hugged his family members and said: "Thank you, Jesus." Where could Mr. Hinton ever have found the inspiration from to hang all the injustice and pain on that name were it not from the experience of the son of God who was rejected by all but responded only with love. The world of his time asked so many wicked questions from Jesus through those who surrounded his cross. "Save thyself", "Let us see whether Elijah  will come to take him down" (Mk 15:36), "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself" (Lk. 23:37); Are you not the Messiah, save yourself and us" (Lk.23:29). Jesus answered with expressions that have the power to save, even today. "Father forgive them; they do not know what they are doing" (Lk. 23:24); "I tell you this day you shall be with me in paradise" (Lk. 23: 43); "My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me? (Matt. 27:46). All seven of such expressions from Jesus portrayed his faith in God, his desire for the forgiveness of man and the recovery of the sinner. Our fragmented world, communities, families and relationships needing healing and repair will greatly benefit from the application of this therapy of love.

Homecoming of the great Alleluia

Believers in Christ are thus called to live "Alleluia" lives. Found in the psalms, Alleluia is an  acclamation of jubilation, found in the psalms, a joyful response used on festive occasions. Its understanding grew to become a foretaste of the elect's eternal gladness. The Church, from old  times suppressed the use of it during the Lenten period and at funerals until the Easter vigil, when it came back home, joyfully proclaimed and sung as the great Alleluia. Saint Augustine, one of the early Church fathers once said: "We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our cry". I think we all ought to let the world feel that.