The Power and Love of God — By Fr. Rich, O.P.
I’ve struggled this year with the Easter column. I was focused on one that I had written in 2015, centered on six words: “bravely, fiercely, and compassionately; relentless, forgiving, unconditional.” Since I first heard them in an episode of Chicago Fire, they have come to be the thread through which run the events of Holy Week and Easter. Finally, I’ve landed on the moment that everything has been preparation for: the Resurrection! So here is my vision, beginning with his death. Thank you for your patience and indulgence. So … Jesus has died for our sins …
In Matthew’s telling of the death of Jesus, nature’s response to the death of the Creator’s Son is immediate: And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:51-53)
Over the course of Jesus’ time in the tomb, the world continued to mourn; gray darkness seemed to have settled over Jerusalem, the normally noisy city was muted, people moved about slowly, as in a trance. Not only was there a sense of mourning, but a sense of waiting as well.
Then the Day began, and the light came slowly, tentatively on the horizon. The moment. Think of all the beautiful sunrises you’ve experienced in your life, and then put them in the moment. Captured in that moment of the Resurrection, are all of those sunrises, almost beyond imagining! But can you? All of the light, the colors and shades, found only in nature celebrating.
In my imagination, an event of this magnitude cannot be silent. The choirs of angels who had been charged with caring for Jesus Christ — standing, weeping, mourning His death and their inability to intervene — those same choirs now rejoice. The Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Archangels, Principalities, Angels, all coming together in the most powerful, passionate moment of rejoicing in all time. In Handel’s Hallelujah chorus, we have a poor approximation of that moment.
All the energy and excitement follows in the Gospel accounts: joy, fear, uncertainty, hope; the disciples, Mary and the other women, those on the road to Emmaus; everyone caught up in the Alleluias of the moment. But for me, it moves from the momentous, seminal event in human history to the moment at the tomb.
“Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.” (John 20:16) I imagine the tenderness in Jesus’ voice, the love that has always been the source and center of God’s presence in our lives flowing through that moment of revelation.
And so it is. The God of power and might of the Jewish Testament, seen in thunder and lighting, the mighty forces of nature bending to the God’s will, holding the Jewish people , the Chosen, in His hands. And the God of the New Covenant, whose power and might is seen and felt in the serene presence of Jesus Christ, His love for those who followed him flowing through Him, transcending His death. In the post Resurrection world, Jesus Christ lives in our hearts, in the Eucharist, in our hands, feet, and body as we carry out the Gospel message.
For eight days, we celebrate this moment in human history, a celebration that matches the joy of His birth. Eight days in which the “Alleluias” ring frequently through our prayer. Hardly seems enough.
The truth is that we are an “Alleluia People”! Having found our way through the season of Lent, we are now free to join those nine choirs of Angels singing in joyful acknowledgment of God’s power, God’s love.
I suggest we open ourselves to the glories of the season, the Scripture, the prayers, the events. May they continue to nurture us in our relationship with God, help to know more fully the fierce, unrelenting, compassionate, forgiving love of God.