Easter Sunday - Homily 1

Homily 1 - 2010

I’ll tell you two reasons why Jesus’ resurrection is important to me. 

Firstly: It’s the ultimate vindication of Jesus’ approach to life. Jesus was killed by the power groups of his time – the guardians of the status quo and of law and order. 

Jesus saw the need for profound social and ultimately personal change. In his world, poverty was endemic, and, accompanying it, widespread sickness and disease. (They inevitably go together.) I presume that the power elites simply took the status quo for granted. It was so familiar, they simply didn’t see it.  It suited them that things remained as they were. The religious leaders were as oppressive and as blind as everyone else.

Over the centuries, the usual path to radical social and political change has been violent revolution. Jesus followed another path. He resisted oppression, and relentlessly preached an alternative way of seeing, appreciating and respecting persons – everyone. He actively challenged the endemic injustice of his time. He was totally convinced of the God-given dignity of every human person; and, consistently, he insisted on the path of non-violence in every personal and social interaction.

In the last century we saw some wonderful advocates of non-violence: Gandhi, Martin Luther      King, Nelson Mandela. Eventually, their way won out. There were other similar attempts in eastern Europe under Communism, and in Tienanmin Square in China.

Were it not for Jesus, perhaps we could say that the jury is still out. Resurrection was the response of God to the option of Jesus. Resurrection was God’s affirmation of the way of

non-violent, but totally committed action for justice, motivated by love, and animated by a deep  insight into the God-given dignity of every person.

The second reason why resurrection is important to me is more personal. Through what happened to Jesus by virtue of his resurrection, he is no longer constricted to a single, brief historical moment or a limited geographical location – Palestine, 2000 years ago. I can relate to him now, personally. I can be in contact with him.

As he said to his disciples: I go to prepare a place for you. That place is not spatial, but his own risen humanity. He prepared it through his dying and rising. Because of that I can be in him, and he can be in me. I can abide in him.

Is this all “airy-fairy”, woolly, wishful thinking? I don’t think so. I believe I see the effect of that mutual presence in love – in my sense of myself, in my behaviour, and in my growing freedom to become and to be the kind of person that I long to be.

Without resurrection, we really would be “in the dark”. Jesus allows a whole other insight into human dignity and into the possibilities of constructive, respectful human interaction.

And not only insight. His love provides the power to bring it about – if only we would trust him and follow his way.