martes, 22 de abril de 2014

Resurrection: An outpouring of Christ's Life for us!

by Fr. Edem Afoutou, CJM
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In the attempt to dialogue with people who do not share the Christian faith and most often those who do not believe in God, the frequently asked question is “What finally has Jesus brought to our humanity?” This question is taken up in the second volume of Jesus of Nazareth of Pope Benedict XVI who said that in spite of the evidence of war, suffering, death and all kind of cruelties in the world Jesus brought God to humankind. I happen to share this one day with a group, but it was frowned upon by some people. They could not understand why the Pope declared that Jesus brought God to our humanity as if God was not there before the incarnation.

The Resurrection of the Lord sheds light on the mission he had while he was still ministering in the world. But did Jesus really need to go through the different stages of his life to save us? This question becomes more warranted when we consider the dramatic events of his life: the betrayal of his friends, his arrest and scourging, the carrying of the cross, and his death on the cross. The suffering of our Lord is widely brought to light in the modern world by the movie, “The Passion of the Christ” by Mel Gibson. We cringe at the violence he had to go through.

The Pope Emeritus’ assertion that it is God that Jesus has definitely brought into our world has to be understood rightly through these events of his life enumerated above. Going through afflictions, suffering and death, Jesus brought God’s light into the heart of those in despair. When Jesus embraced his undeserved suffering and death, he also touched and embraced all of humanity’s travails, pain, rejection and abandonment. In Jesus Christ, true God and true man, human suffering and death carry the torch of God’s light and presence. The Resurrection of Christ is the outpouring of that light manifested to the world. In that way, those who are tied to Jesus through faith travel the same way, enlightened by the victory Jesus won over the darkness of sin. In betrayal, in physical, moral, emotional or psychological suffering we are assured of the divine presence which does not suppress the trial but transforms it. We can no longer say then that “The Lord has abandoned me, He has forgotten me” (Is 49: 14) while we are experiencing these things in life.

Resurrection experience therefore entails confidence in God. It is faith that does not seeks signs or evidence before adhering or submitting oneself to the Lord. We can understand then why the resurrection was such a humble and discrete sign manifested to only few people. The grace that saved the humanity came about in a humble way to respect the mode through which God always operates in the world. The incarnation itself, the mission of Jesus and the paschal mystery were like a mustard seed (Mt 13:31-32) that once sown is completely insignificant but becomes the biggest tree in the land.

The consequence of all this is the fact that Salvation happens to carry another meaning for us Christians. It is not only liberation from Egypt or exile or from all other kinds of bondage. Salvation means that Jesus has shared his life with us. We are saved once we receive within ourselves the divine life of Jesus, the light of God. Nothing then can separate us from Jesus Christ and his life operating within us (Rom 8:39).

This is what we are celebrating in Easter. The life of God brought to our humanity and available for everyone and everywhere whenever he wishes. Isn’t that extremely Good News for our humanity?

Happy Easter!!!

Fr. Edem Afoutou is the Director of St. John Eudes House of Formation in Quezon City, Philippines. He a Eudist priest from Togo, and is part of the Vice-Province of Africa. He is assigned to the Philippines and, consequently, to the North American Province of the congregation ad tempus. He is currently working on his thesis to complete his master's degree in Anthropology at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

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