Awake, O Sleeper, and Arise from the Dead

Alleluia!! Christ is risen! Indeed he is risen! Hopefully you had a joyful celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection yesterday with solemn worship and appropriate feasting after our season of fasting. But don’t forget—Easter is not over! In a certain sense we continue to celebrate Easter Sunday for this entire week with the Octave of Easter, and after that the Season of Easter continues all the way to Pentecost in about fifty days. All this should tell us at least two things. First, Easter is a really big deal. And second, as such we need to spend a lot of time praying about it. It’s not enough to spend just one day in prayer and reflection.

Today’s readings highlight one aspect of the Resurrection in particular: the preservation of Christ’s body from corruption and his risen glory. As our responsorial psalm (which St. Peter quotes at length in our first reading) says, “You will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence.”

Saint Peter highlights the fact that the “holy one” in question in this psalm is not David, the author, but Jesus Christ whose resurrection David foretold. Yet Christ’s miraculous preservation from corruption is also meant as a sign of hope for us and to inspire in us a deeper trust in God. The same God who raised Jesus from the dead desires for us to share in Christ’s resurrected life now through the sacraments and forever in our own resurrected bodies in heaven.

The same God who proved his love for us by dying and rising for us, the same God who will resurrect our bodies on the last day, calls us out of our spiritual tombs today—the tombs of our doubts, the tombs of despair, the tombs of the complacency that has despaired of greatness and settled for mediocrity, the tombs of low expectations for ourselves and for God’s loving power in our lives. From the time of the Resurrection even until now, the world is full of stories, like that of the guards in today’s Gospel, that cast doubt upon the power of his love. Even while affirming his Resurrection, how often do we nevertheless live as though he were still in the grave? How often do we succumb to stories or ways of thinking that seal us within our own spiritual tombs, effectively denying his power and his desire to save us?

Jesus does not wish for us to see corruption in spiritual graves. He beckons us to rise from all of these tombs and to behold the power of his risen love, like Mary Magdalene and the other Mary do in today’s Gospel. Having truly beheld him, having truly accepted the power of his love over death—not just in the abstract but personally, not just at the Resurrection on the last day but now, today—we will then be sent by him. We will be sent like the two Marys and Peter to proclaim his saving love to the world. In a world that is sealed in tombs by false stories about Jesus and his love for us, we are sent to speak the truth that will set those around us free so that they too can “follow the path to life” and rejoice in the fullness of joy in the presence of Risen Love.

Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. (used with permission)

From Dominicana Journal