April 12, 2022
Throughout his ministry, Jesus has followed God’s will to offer forgiveness, compassion, reconciliation, and healing to all whom he meets—especially those, who in the eyes of the world deserve it the least. But this is who Jesus has come for: the least, the little, the last, the lost, and the dead. As Jesus ministered this way in word and deed, he proclaimed that we are all God’s children, deserving of love. No one is excluded. No one.
The week before last, the 5th Sunday of Lent, we heard that unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains but a single grain. What is it, in light of Jesus’ ministry that we need to die to? What forgiveness and healing do we need? Where in our lives do we need God’s compassion and reconciliation? And more: who is it that we are called to forgive, to heal, to have compassion for, and to be reconciled with? Only when we are willing to die—to let go of our delusional image of perfection and to our hard-heartedness—will we be able to accept the love that will transform us to become capable of bearing much fruit in love and service.
As we enter the Easter Triduum, we realize that a way of life is on trial. Just last week on Passion Sunday, we heard the cry of Jesus from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mk 15:34). All seems lost in this haunting question. The religious authorities saw him as a deceiver of the people who must be put to death. From the early chapters of Mark’s gospel they raise questions about Jesus: “Who is this who forgives sins?”; “Who is this who eats with tax collectors and sinners?”; “Who is this whose disciples do not fast?”; “Who is this who does not follow the Sabbath law?” And now, in the eyes of the world, the mission and ministry of Jesus seems like a failure as he hangs upon a cross. Even Jesus’ last words express the seeming absence of God in the midst of his prayerful plea. Is the way of forgiveness and healing, of compassion and reconciliation a dead end?
Easter Sunday proclaims in God’s action of raising Jesus from the dead God’s faithfulness toward his Son and servant, Jesus. Easter Sunday also confirms that the way of Jesus, the path of forgiveness and healing, especially to the least, the little, the last, the lost, and the dead is the path to new life. Jesus trusted in God, even unto death. The resurrection of Jesus is God’s response of faithfulness in turn. When we are able to imitate Jesus in his ministry of healing and reconciliation, dying to hatred and retribution, we also open ourselves to the new life that God longs to offer us.
The resurrection of Jesus is the confirmation and the strengthening of our own hope that God can work some marvelous deed within us. Our sacrifices and service to others in compassion and love to all is done in commitment to following God’s will. When we live this way—in the cost that our sacrifice and service to others brings to us—we are trusting that God will transform our suffering and small (and sometime large) deaths into new life. God’s action of raising Jesus from the dead increases our own hope that this is, indeed, the pathway to a fulfilled life in this world and eternal life in the next. This is what it means to announce and give witness to the Paschal Mystery. It means that we are “convinced of God’s unconditional love for us as we herald the liberation and salvation of each person and society as a passage from death to life in which every situation of evil and injustice will be overcome” (Mission Statement of the Congregation of the Resurrection). To this triumph of God’s love over evil and injustice we cry out, “Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!”