Sunday, May 12, 2019

Easter Sunday: The Living One is not among the Dead

APRIL 21, 2019


Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early in Easter morning. She expected to find the corpse of Jesus there and she came to anoint him. But to her surprise, she found the stone removed from the tomb and when she reported it to Peter and John, they ran to the tomb in order to investigate. They found the tomb empty. There were the burial cloths and other linen. But the body was missing. Jesus was not in the tomb.

Why was Jesus not in the tomb? It was because he is risen from the dead. A tomb is no place for a living person. It is the resting place of the dead. It is not for the living. Why look for the living among the dead?

During the Lenten season, we were confronted by the reality of sin. Sin is the cause of death. Death entered the world through sin. Jesus engaged in a battle against the devil and eventually died. The sinless One seemed to be defeated by sin itself because he was afflicted with death. He had to enter death in order to destroy it from within. (His strategy was similar to that of the Trojan horse) Obediently accepting death on the Cross, Jesus destroyed the chains of death that bound us. He had to be chained by the shackles of death so that he can break it. He broke the chains of death by destroying the cause of death: disobedience. His obedience undid the disobedience of Adam and Eve. His humiliation overturned the arrogance of Satan. Once the cause is destroyed, the effect is shattered.

Through his death on the Cross, Jesus obtained for us the grace of the forgiveness of sins. (How do you destroy sin? It is destroyed by forgiving it in the same way that disease is destroyed by curing it.) This forgiveness is given to us through the sacraments of Baptism and Confession. When we are in sin, we find ourselves enslaved to the tomb. We were dead because of sin. But now he calls us to come out of the tomb. “The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” Resurrecting from the dead, Jesus came out of the tomb and he bids us to follow him out of the death of sin into the life of grace. St. Paul tells us: “Clear out the old yeast (of sin), so that you may become a fresh batch of dough; inasmuch as you are unleavened. For Christ, our Paschal Lamb, has been sacrificed.”

He tells us to confess our sins and renounce them. By doing so, we cast away the yeast of sin. We are freed from our slavery to sin and therefore, are released from the curse of everlasting death. It is only when we are freed from sin that we cannot be harmed by death forever. Only Christ can do this for us. We have to believe in him and reach out for the instruments he gives us to obtain mercy and forgiveness. Those who ask for forgiveness will come out of the tomb and live. Those who refuse that mercy will remain dead in the tomb. Christ is not in the tomb because he is alive. The tomb is the place of the dead because Christ is not there. Whoever lives in sin is actually dead because Christ is not in him. Whoever obtains mercy is alive and is able to say: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20) “Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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