On February 17, 1991, Mrs. Ruth Dillow was sitting at her home in Chanute, Kansas when she received a phone call. The person on the other end of the line identified himself as being from the Pentagon and he was sorry to inform her that her son, private first class Clayton Carpenter had stepped on a land-mine and had been killed. Of course, the news hit her like a blow and as the reality began to set in, it was as if she had lost her own life with the life of her son.
On the third day, after mourning in the depths of despair, she got a second phone call and this time the person on the other side of the phone said… “Mom! I’m alive!” At first she couldn’t believe it was her son, but as they began to talk finally it began to sink in. “This really is my son, he’s not dead, he’s alive!” She said that it felt like she had gotten her life back again when she got her son back.
How Ruth Dillow felt when she got that news is something like how the disciples felt when they found out that Jesus was risen from the dead. They also had been in the depths of despair: their best friend, their master, their teacher and Lord they’d followed for three years had been crucified. Not just that, but now they were penned up, for fear of the Jews, in the upper room. And then to find out that he wasn’t dead but alive.
But there’s one big difference between Ruth Dillow and the disciples. Clayton Carpenter had never been dead, The Pentagon had simply made a mistake – not too surprising, right? But Jesus Christ had actually died.
Today we come to hear a story that is very similar. The disciples, family members, those who were at the cross have all received the news that Jesus is not dead but alive.
Joseph of Arimathea was a very wealthy Pharisee, a member of the council, and a secret follower of Jesus. It was Joseph who went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body after the crucifixion. And it was Joseph who supplied the tomb for Jesus’ burial. Well, it seems that someone pulled him aside and said, “Joseph, that was such beautiful, costly, hand-hewn tomb. Why on earth did you give it to someone else to be buried in?” Joseph just smiled. “Why not? He only needed it for the weekend.”
We are so accustomed to hearing of Jesus risen from the dead that we could say, “Oh yea…we know all about it” and miss the grace of this holy season of Easter. But think about it, Jesus rose from the dead! Death is not the end. It is only the door to beyond.
The resurrection of Christ is the basis of our Christian Faith: The Resurrection is the greatest of the miracles — it proves that Jesus is God. That is why St. Paul writes: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain; and your faith is in vain… And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is a delusion and you are still lost in your sins… But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (I Cor 15: 14, 17, 20). If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, then the Church is a fraud, and faith is a sham. But if He really did rise from the dead, His message is true!
Without the Resurrection, Jesus would have remained forever a good person who had met a tragic end. People would remember some of his teachings, and a handful of people might try to live according to them. All the basic doctrines of Christianity are founded on the truth of the Resurrection. “Jesus is Lord; He is risen” (Rom 10: 9) was the central theme of the kerygma (or “preaching”), of the Apostles
Easter is the guarantee of our own resurrection: Jesus assured Martha at the tomb of Lazarus: “I am the Resurrection and the life; whoever believes in Me will live even though he dies” (Jn 11: 25-26). Christ will raise us up on the last day, but it is also true, in a sense, that we have already risen with Christ. By virtue of the Holy Spirit, our Christian life is already a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ
Easter is a feast which gives us hope and encouragement in this world of pain, sorrows and tears: It reminds us that life is worth living. It is our belief in the Real Presence of the Risen Jesus in our souls, in His Church, in the Blessed Sacrament and in Heaven that gives meaning to our personal, as well as to our common, prayers. Let our trust in the all-pervading presence of the Risen Lord give us strength to fight against temptations and freedom from unnecessary worries and fears. Let the prayer of St. Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, be ours as well: “Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ within me, never to part.”
Wish you all Happy Easter….