Meditation on Resurrection

Carmel of Aleppo. April 22

“Death has been swallowed up in victory”

Christ is risen! He is truly risen!

 

How, in truth, could we meditate on the mystery of Resurrection, where everything took place in the greatest secrecy, after three dramatic days that shook apostles and disciples? The most incredible event of death defeat took place in an inconceivable incognito for human reasoning. “God makes death disappear forever” (cf. Is. 25:8) and nothing seems to have changed in the course of the universe.

Fabrice Hadjadj, the philosopher, with his usual outspokenness, stated in a conference: “One must admit that the risengloir Jesus is rather disappointing… If I had invented the story of Salvation, I would have done it quite differently. (…) – [If we consider] – the glory of God, after He has risen from the tomb, frankly one has the impression that the staging has suffered from major budget cuts and that we have had to abandon all the magnificence and the magic of special effects…”.[1]

Indeed, to console his Mother, to give hope and joy to all the fearful apostles on the verge of despair, Jesus doesn’t use the imposing means we might have expected after the offensl of the Cross. Instead, to confirm the greatest event of our faith, God uses silence, night, solitude. Evil makes noise, but not Good, not the Divine who never imposes himself but humbly offers Him to the freedom of each human being’s conscience.

The Good doesn’t seek to dazzle. It encompasses everything, but transforms everything from within. This is the mystery of the silence of the night of Bethlehem night or that of Calvary or finally that of the Resurrection. Love, which is the absolute Good, is powerless, voiceless, fragile and defenseless. He stands at the door of our hearts and knocks, waiting to be opened (cf. Rev. 3:20).

Evil acts from the outside and destroys, with many theatrical and frightening effects. We have an example of this in Jesus’ temptations in the desert. Satan offers us a real grand staging by which he thinks he will achieve his goals: to divert God’s Son from his infinite and unconditional trust in his Father, from his unfailing love for Him and for all the people He came to rescue.

To return to the Resurrection[2] night, the Sequence of the Resurrection Mass, in the Latin rite, situates this mystery well. The “strange and prodigious duel” between death and life, between light and darkness, takes place in the greatest secrecy. No one witnesses it directly. And it is in the very heart of his death that “the Master of life reigns“. He does not reign “alive“, but while he is still held in death’s grip.

How, then, are we to translate into human words this ineffable mystery of the definitive victory of Life over death, of Love over hate? The Evangelists and after them the Apostles chose the path of the greatest discretion. Nothing unusual in their narrations. Nothing that could lure lovers of sensationalism. Is this not the greatest proof of their testimony’s authenticity? No one was an eyewitness to the moment of the Resurrection. The guards were asleep and the disciples of Jesus had disappeared. No, sensationalism was not the way to translate the Resurrection. God wanted to touch people’s hearts first and foremost. So, he didn’t choose extraordinary means, and the disciples followed the same path. They were content to encourage faith, to revive the hope of all those who, like the disciples of Emmaus, had been deeply saddened and shaken by Jesus’ death. Even the women’s testimony had failed to convince them.

And for us today, how do we get into this mystery? Life, victorious forever against evil, often seems to present itself in our lives and in the Church’s and the world’s life as a pious illusion, as a simplistic utopia incapable of solving the problem of death, of evil, of the darkness that never ceases to clamp down on any bud of hope in its grip. Life seems forever swallowed up by death. And alas, a thousand and one examples could testify to this skepticism: wars, disasters, injustices, persecutions, violence at all levels and of all kinds, refusal or lack of knowledge of God and of Salvation in Jesus Christ, all this is constantly before our eyes to shake our hope. But it is here and not elsewhere that the true victory of God is found in his beloved Son risen from the dead. And it is through our daily lives, through small victories that are often ignored even by those closest to us, that the seed of the Resurrection germinates and grows. May we then, in this Easter season, be luminous witnesses of this ultimate truth:

Death has been swallowed up in Victory. Death where is your victory?” (1 Cor 15:54-55).

And may we hear in the depths of our being and repeat that triumphant cry of Mary Magdalene: Yes, “Christ, my Hope, is risen!”[3]

 


[1] Fabrice Hadjadj’s lecture “The glory of the Risen One” (Cathedral School 2019; Sion Cathedral Parish, Switzerland). YouTube.

[2] Easter Day Sequence “Victimae pascali laudes“: “Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando, Dux Vitae mortuus regnat vivus“.

[3]Victimae pascali laudes” sequence: “Surrexit Christus spes mea!”

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