This reflection was taken from the Easter Sunday Readings of Apr. 20, 2014:
It strikes me as difficult, in a way, to write a reflection for Easter Sunday. I mean, how do you respond to that? What can I write that would possibly be worthy of it? If I were to try to delve into something little and specific, I would seem to be missing the main point; but the main point, the Lord’s Resurrection, has–obviously–already been stated. But how often do we really think about it?
On Good Friday, Jesus suffered and died for our sins. He did it out of total, selfless love. However, He did not just die. He rose–today, all those years ago–to new, glorified life.
In doing so, He conquered death–not only for Himself, but also for all of us. He wishes for us to rise with Him to eternal life. His victory over death gives us all an opportunity to go beyond it: to instead live forever in Heaven.
As Jesus said, “If anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world” (Jn 12:47). Jesus–the only one with the authority to truly condemn us–does not wish us condemnation. However, He continues: “Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak” (Jn 12:48-49). It’s not Jesus’ condemnation that send us to Hell; rather, it’s our own. We condemn ourselves through our sinful actions.
That’s His gift of free will–to rise with Him to eternal life, or to shirk Him and send ourselves to Hell. It’s not like how so many people try to construe it–that God is demanding and evil and tyrannical, in expecting people to do what He wants, under the “threat” that He’ll send us to Hell if we don’t. “I am the way and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). Jesus’ “way” is the way to holiness–and, from there, the way to Heaven. God asks us to do His will for our own sakes, not His; because He knows that a life of sin will make us unfit for His Kingdom. Yet He gives us the free will to choose for ourselves; He does not force us to be puppets.
He knows the eternal alternative to Heaven; He asks us to be holy because He doesn’t want us to go there. Instead, He wants to raise us to new life–just like He did His only begotten Son. In Jesus, we too can become Sons and Daughters of God; so as St. Paul said in the first option of today’s second reading, “Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” Remember that we always have the opportunity to rise from the dead alongside Jesus to new life; all we have to do is take it.
by Cameron Daly