It's Easter, So What!
When Jesus was arrested, nine disciples ran for their lives, Judas committed suicide, Peter followed Jesus but betrayed his friendship and ran. Only John stayed with Jesus until the end. We can assume the others returned to their jobs and family in order to hide from the Romans and also to get some perspective on what was happening to their beloved teacher. Gradually they crept back to the upper room seeking mutual support, prayer together and decide whether to disband or try to carry on with Jesus’ teaching. But that would be dangerous for sure. But then Jesus had told them to remain in Jerusalem but how long should they wait?
Now suppose there had been no resurrection? Mary Magdalen and the other women went to the tomb and found nothing amiss.. The massive stone was securely in place over the entrance of the cave. Perhaps they sat and talked, as women will. Then they may have prayed and wept for a while. It had been a terrible three days! Disconsolately, they returned to city to console His Mother, Mary or returned to their own families. They did not run to the upper room, for there was nothing to report.
The Temple guards and the Roman guards had had an uneventful night watch at the tomb and reported to their superiors that all that anxiety about stealing Jesus’ body was unfounded. Maybe they grumbled about losing a night’s sleep for nothing.
Impatient with waiting, and fearful that the Romans would find them, the apostles too dispersed with no plans for their future as a group. Forty days later, there was no Ascension. The Patriarchs and Prophets and all the holy souls of the past still waited for their redemption because the gates of heaven were still unopened even to the just.
Fifty days after Jesus’ death the Pentecost festival was just another annual Barley Festival and no Holy Spirt descended to ignite anyone with an explosion of the Gifts of the Spirit. No wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, piety, fear of the Lord and definitely no fortitude were received. Sadly, Peter never got to reconcile with Jesus and be assured of forgiveness.
No sacrament of Reconciliation or Baptism as there was nothing into which to initiate anyone. The Gospels would never have been written, nor the Church established. Hope had been shattered. The long awaited Messiah hadn’t come after all. Jesus would have died in vain. A wasted life of incredible teaching and wisdom forgotten. His revolutionary message had fallen on deaf ears with no one to fan the flames of love that he had preached. And no St. Paul!
How empty our lives would be without hope of reaching eternal union with God. When God first made man, His intention was to become one with Him so that man could be more like God. Our bodies were meant to be united to His in the Eucharist in order to be transformed into that which we consume. From the first chapter of Genesis, God’s design was to live among us, walk with us in the garden of our lives. Our destiny was not on this earth but in Heaven.
Jesus had to rise from the dead! It was the only way to prove that He was who He claimed to be; the Son of God! Easter had to happen in order to open the gates of Heaven which had been closed by Adam’s sin. Easter had to happen so that we could be filled with the Holy Spirit and possess the graces needed to reach our destiny. The God who engineered the universe also designed every step of our salvation after the Fall and it isn’t over yet.
Then consider His Mother. What had become of all the promises the angel had made to her? He had said, her son would be filled with Holy Spirit. He would be great and the Son of the Most High. He would rule the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there would be no end. He will be called the Son of God! (LK: 26-35) Did the angel lie? Was it an hallucination? Jesus had even said that in three days He would rise again. Was he a fraud? Was this just some cruel hoax? Mary couldn’t accept that. NO--Jesus had to rise from the dead! He was, after all, the Way, the Truth and the Life. He had to demonstrate and confirm the truth of all he had taught and who He truly was.
The effect of no resurrection would also have touched the future. We would still be the unredeemed; left to struggle against our basest selves without the graces of the sacraments to strengthen our will against temptation. Death would come without the security of going to Heaven. Life would be so much darker without the hope of our own resurrection.
Walk, then, in the hope of reaching the Beatific Vision. Walk in gratitude with Jesus through these next forty days to His Ascension.