“Making Known Christ’s Resurrection”
Easter Sunday – March 27, 2016
Acts 10: 34 – 43/ Psalm 118: 14 – 24/1 Corinthians 15: 19 - 26/ Luke 24: 1 - 12
Bishop Ariel Cornelio P. Santos
Hallelujah! Christ is risen! It is a new day! It is a happy day! I can’t think of any reason that we could complain of. God, in Christ, has given us new life and reconciled us to Himself. What more is there to life? We need to have peace.
Jesus said that He came that we might have life and have it abundantly. The will of God was revealed in the coming of Jesus. He came so that He can carry out and fulfill the will of the Father – for us to have life abundantly as originally intended when He created us.
Adam lost the image and likeness of God at a certain point. Along with it, he lost the life of God in him. Adam was created not really immortal because he cannot be immortal if he came from nothing. The immortality of man was with him as long as he shared God’s image and likeness and stayed in obedience. The Eucharistic prayer says, “When our disobedience took us far from Thee.” When we disobeyed God, this cut the life off for us and toward us coming from God.
Jesus came to inaugurate a new creation. On the first day of the week, He rose from the dead. On the first day of the week, there was new life, a new beginning, a new creation. In 1Corinthians 15, it says that “As in Adam all die, even so likewise in Christ all will be made alive.” We all became sinful because of Adam; all will be made righteous because of the second Adam. This is the hope we have in Christ – in this life and in the life to come. 1Corinthians 15:19 says, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” We are not a people without hope; we are with hope of the resurrection. We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.
1Corinthians 15:23, “But each in his own order…” Some are fast, some are slow. Some mature fast, some mature slow. Some learn fast, some learn slow. Jesus told the Pharisees and the religious leaders when they were arguing with Him, “Tax collectors and prostitutes will be ahead of you into the kingdom.” This is because they respond faster. Some of the priests in the Book of Acts repented and joined the followers of Christ, but they took longer than others. Some of the sinners understood and accepted the good news of the forgiveness of God and they accepted it so Jesus said that they will get ahead of the religious leaders into the Kingdom.
I share the sentiments of the Psalmist when he said, “What is man (Tom, Dick, Harry, Peter, James, John, the tax collectors, the sinners, the prostitutes, the Pharisees, and us) that You should take thought of all of us? Who are we that we are that special to You?” The Bible says that we are the apple of God’s eye. We are very dear to Him that He would give His life to ransom us. To ransom a slave, God would give His only Son. Imagine the extent of the love of God, but I don’t think we can because it is unfathomable! God’s love is infinite and God formed us in His own image.
The prayer says that, “He gave the whole world into our care so that in obedience to Him, we might rule and serve all His creatures. When our disobedience took us far from Him, He did not abandon us to the power of death. But in His mercy and in His love, He came to our help so that in seeking Him, we might find Him.” When we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, Christ became flesh, shared our human nature, lived and died as one of us to reconcile us to Himself.
God does not hate us. God does not the flesh. God does not hate humanity. God would not be flesh if He hated flesh. God doesn’t become what He despises or seeks to destroy. He doesn’t become what He doesn’t love. He loves us and He is not willing to see us languish in shame, in death, in hopelessness, in a fallen state without joining us in our plight and in our predicament and lifting us up from there and reconciling us to Himself.
Because of Easter, because of the Resurrection, to us, it means that we are renewed, not fallen. We are born-again because we are once dead. Don’t say, “I am only human,” in a demeaning way because humanity has been renewed and restored by Christ. We should say, “I am only human,” with dignity, with the understanding of the Resurrection, and with thankfulness. We say, “I am human and that is my creation. I was wonderfully created and yet more wonderfully restored.” In the beginning, God gave us spoken word and we were created. After we fell, the restoration process did not just involved speaking a word, but the giving of the life of the living. This makes the restoration process more wonderful.
I would like to encourage us that insecurity, jealousy, envy and discontentment have no place in the new life that God has given us. What more could we ask for? He gave His life for us. What do we need to complain about? What do we need to be insecure about? We don’t need to pull each other down. We don’t need crab mentality for this is the spirit of the devil. The reason the devil became partially successful to destroy man is because man had something that the devil did not have. What others have, we do have. There is no reason to pull each other down. Why did Cain kill his brother? He was jealous and insecure. God said to overcome it because what he gave Cain and his brother maybe different but He is not partial. There is the spirit of the devil that says, “I don’t have so what would you have?” The brother of the prodigal son was jealous, but there should not be a reason for this.
We act like this because of ignorance of what we do have and what God has given us and what we do have despite of the resurrection. We don’t need to be insecure. St. Paul says in 1Corinthians 3:21 says, “All things belong to you whether of Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come.” All things belong to us and we belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.”
In the beginning, before the fall, all things belong to man. In Genesis 1:29 CEV, it says, “I have provided all kinds of fruit and grain for you to eat (life), except from one tree (death).” Everything that man needed was provided by God for him for life in order to sustain him. Verse 31 says that the set up was very good. Everything man needed was provided by God for man. Before the fall, in the kingdom of God, all things were provided for Adam. If he needed something, he did not have to get from a refrigerator. He just needed to pick up from the tree. It was the ultimate buffet, the original ‘unli’. Why desire the one tree when everything is at his disposal? Why desire the one tree that God unequivocally said, “Don’t touch it because you will die. All the others are for life except for one tree which is death.”
Why is there a gravitational pull on us for things which are forbidden? We ask why others have a boyfriend, a nice phone, a new car, a big house or they have money. Sometimes, our attitude is “colonial suppression” where we feel we are superior that we are entitled to certain things and others don’t. Fifteen years ago, there was a debate on corruption after the President was taken down. There was the issue on how to prevent corruption from happening again. It was suggested that government officials be given a higher pay and the President should receive a million pesos a month. The others opposed that asking, “Why should they have that privilege? What about us? Why should they have that and others should only have this much?” This is insecurity.
During the term of another President, they were on a state visit and they were in New York. They stayed in the Waldorf Astoria, an expensive hotel, and they paid for their whole entourage $7,000 a night. There was much talk about how extravagant, how wasteful it was and others were defending him saying, “That is our privilege. We need to have representation.” The thing is we should not be insecure. God takes care of us. God gave His life for us which is priceless, currency-less. He doesn’t show partiality and God would tell us, “If I use him this way, if I bless him this way, what is that to you? I use you another way, I bless you another way. I am your Father and I am not partial to anyone. I make rain fall on the righteous and I make rain fall on the wicked. Trust Me and have peace. Don’t be insecure. This is My will for you.”
After Jesus resurrected, He said to the disciples when He saw them, “Peace be with you. Don’t be downtrodden. Don’t lose hope. I died for you. I resurrected for you for the very reason that you might have hope and peace. What you don’t have, you don’t need now.” I would like to think that God has a funding trust for us. It is always there when we need it, not when we want it to spend it on something that we want.
My children do not have allowances. We give them what they need for the day. At home, we provide food that they need. Sometimes, they look for something that they want and they don’t find it there. Most of the time, they have what they need at home. Once in a while, they can taste what they want.
What matters is what we need – life, peace, hope. All that we need for life have been given to us and made available to us by God. There was this movie where an American became the king of England and he had a good time for a few times. Then he realized, “I have everything I want and nothing that I need.” Given a couple of years, you will get tired of what you think you want or need because what God wants for us, what He wills for us for life has already been given to us. We don’t have any reason to be insecure.
We have money for our Church building. Some of it is in bank accounts on earth; the rest of it is in the bank account of heaven. God, and when we need it, He will release it. It is there in trust. We have money for projects that God wants us to do. He is our Provider. He keeps the funds in trust. I am not just talking about money, but everything that we need. There is no reason to look to others and say, “How come they have this and that? How come they are able to do this and that?” What is this to you? Christ said, “You follow Me.” Understanding that we have all that we need, in Christ, we are not to pull down others, but pull down that which pulls them down and what keeps them from prospering and from having an abundant life. Teach them the message of Easter. Teach them the good news of the Resurrection.
Don’t look down on others who are slower. Empathize with them. If you have water trapped in your ears, get another drop, put it in your ear, and get the rest of the water out. This is what Jesus did. He joined us in our predicament, in the pit, in order to get us out. He empathized and became one with us. He undergirded us. When Adam died, Jesus looked down from heaven and could not stand it. Jesus became man, died with Adam, and undergirded him, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, His Father lifted Him up together with Adam.
If we realize that we have been resurrected and have been sitted with Christ in the heavenly places, we will not be insecure. Jesus did not kick us when we were down, instead, He joined us in the pit and He suffered more for our sake just so He can give us new life. Jesus did it for us and He counts on us to proclaim to others also. We should not be motivated by scientific proof or the phenomenon of the Resurrection, but motivated by a personal encounter with the Risen Lord. We should hear Jesus Himself call us by our first name, just like He did to Mary Magdalene. When we hear Him, we should respond and say, “Rabbi, Rabboni, Teacher, Lord, Savior, Jesus,” and go tell the disciples.
This is what Jesus is counting on us to do. It has to be a personal encounter with the Risen Lord. Just like with Mary Magdalene, just like in the beginning because that is just the way it is in the kingdom of our God.