The Mystery of the Resurrection: Easter
When Christ gave himself to the Father on Calvary in reparation for the sin of mankind, his body was laid in the tomb, and remained there through all the mysterious hours of Holy Saturday. Unseen by mortal eyes the glory of the divine power rested upon him and raised him from death. When our Lord came, very early on Easter morning through the sealed doorway of the tomb, his risen manhood was proof that what he had given so totally was indeed accepted in the presence of God. Thereafter in the heavenly places, the Lamb that had been slain presents himself continually in the body of our humanity, pleading eternally before God the perfect sacrifice of obedience and love.
From that mystery of sacrifice accepted, we draw our realization and our possession of newness of life. What Christ gives to us whom he calls to follow him is the life that is his in the power of his Passion and Resurrection. We were buried with Christ and now with Christ we have been raised to new life. It is in the power of that very life of his that we are called to serve him, and this brings us into an entirely new relation to God.
God is now to us what he is to his incarnate Son. The mystery of the one eternal God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, has been revealed to us in all its holiness and beauty through the Incarnation of the eternal Word, and in him we now have access to God. Accepted in the Beloved, we approach God no longer as an object of fear, but with love and desire we bring him the joyful tribute of constant service and adoration. We no longer live our lives within the confines of space and time but with him in heavenly places.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above … for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. There are three words which most fully express the essential quality of a life hid with Christ in God, even though still occupied with the cares, duties and anxieties of life here on earth: joy, peace and power.
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you and your joy may be fulfilled. Thus, even as the shadows of the Passion are darkening around him, the note of Resurrection is sounded in our Lord’s discourse in the upper room. A few more hours will find him in Gethsemane, praying in agony of mind and spirit, and then, standing before his judges subjected to cruelty and insult. But when Easter dawns—Then were the disciples glad … Your sorrow shall be turned into joy. In all life’s sorrows, anxieties and fears, when they are borne in fellowship with the sufferings of redeeming Love, we are more than conquerors, there is always joy set before us. Such joy does not always burst into alleluias—that is how the whole mystical body, the Church expresses its joy—but the joy of the soul truly hid with Christ in God is a joy that sees him who is the light of the world. That light is the life of such souls because, given by baptismal grace, renewed by absolution, sustained by holy communion, it is daily gaining ascendancy within them. Resurrection life is sacramental life.
Here is the strength which enables us to overcome natural feebleness and contend with the temptations from which man is never free. The joy of the Lord is your strength. Joy converts all tears to peace, and that is true not least of penitence. Those who have really come to the Cross with broken hearts and resolute wills, not afraid to recognize the sinfulness of their state, will find joy, because the life which is theirs is the very life of Christ who came to set them free.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you—strange words from one who knows he is about to enter into the anguish of his Passion. But they are addressed to those who are prepared to follow him by leaving all things and taking up the Cross daily. Again it is a quality of the new life—Resurrection life—of which he speaks. It is not a matter of evading conflict, not a peace of compromise, but the peace of victory won. The peace of Christ belongs to those who in the power of his sacrificial love have escaped from the thraldom of self- centredness, and entering into the heart of Jesus, have found contentment.
Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. Peace is not a matter of squaring accounts with conscience, but the grace of a new life, continually received at the altar. As the soul looks up to God in prayer a sense of proportion grows, bringing a deep interior peace beyond all thought or understanding, and a spiritual power which wells up through all the confusion in the faculties of the natural life. Jerusalem is built as a city that is at unity in itself: the life that is hid with Christ in God is a little Jerusalem.
But this life into which we have been drawn can never be a state of complacency and quiescence. The contemplative vocation is essentially dynamic. It is energy, power. Vigour and purpose are among the indicative signs that the life is always pressing on towards fulfilment. Jesus cries from the Cross, It is all fulfilled—consummatum est—and to that consummation all our life must be directed. In all our actions, in our attitude to our surroundings, our personal relations and above all our prayer, there should be that sense of responsibility. Forgetting those things that are behind, I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. There is energy, the dynamic power of a consecrated life, lived in union with the risen Christ. This power from on high is not given for the fulfilment of selfish purposes but to strengthen our obedience to the great charge of our Lord, to take up the Cross daily and to grow in holiness. But it means victory over the self—complete identification of the self with the heart and mind and will of the Lord. Then and only then can we begin to serve the purposes of God. There are no characteristics of the natural life that can resist the power, the peace, the joy of Resurrection life, no flaws of temperament which that life cannot transform.