April 16, 2017
Easter Sunday High Mass:
Acts 10: 34 – 43/ Psalm 118: 14 – 29
Colossians 3: 1 – 4/ John 20: 1 – 18
Bishop Ariel Cornelio P. Santos
Hallelujah, Christ is risen! Jesus is alive again! Therefore, the new creation has begun. Lazarus was resurrected only to go back to the land of death. Jesus’ resurrection was into the land of life – never to die again. He died once for all so that nobody has to stay in death anymore. He tore down the gate of hell and bombed the back door of hell, death and the grave so that hell now is not the ultimate finality. Death is now just a door – something that we go through on our way to life.
This is what Jesus did for us. We shall not die, but live. It doesn’t mean that we shall not die a physical death, but we will not stay in death. We will go through it because Jesus has just made it something that is a door to something that is eternal and something in life that no eye has seen nor ear heard.
The Canticle entitled Song of Creation was a song by the three Hebrew children after they came out from the fiery furnace. Nebuchadnezzar placed them in this furnace so that they will worship him, but they did not do so and they overcame this situation and they came up with this song. The song says that all of creation – the snow, the rain, the sun, the fish, the mountain, the angels, even the small things – says, “Praise Ye, the Lord! Because He has given life to us!”
The early Christians, the Jews, had a paradigm shift. They thought that they were the only chosen people of God. When Jesus was born, it was now not limited to a special group of people. It is not about the rest of the world. Now, they saw that the whole world is God’s holy land and everyone is included in God’s chosen people. They only needed to respond to that life being offered to them.
In Acts 10, Peter said, “Now, I most certainly understand that God is not One to show partiality, but in every nation, including the Philippines, including Arab countries, including those who don’t yet believe in God, the man who fears Him is welcome to Him.” Christ has opened Paradise. Now, we proclaim that Jesus is King of the world, the Savior of the world. It is not Caesar who wanted to colonize the whole world. He wanted to build an empire that would reach all of the earth. The bad news for him is that Jesus is the new Lord. Therefore, we walk in His ways, not in the world’s ways.
The power and pomp of nation shall pass away so why walk that way? Why follow that direction? It is passing away; it is corrupting. This is how repentance is rooted in the Resurrection. Now, there is a new way. Now, we can turn from the old ways, which I believe we are very tired of following, and follow the new way of life, which is Jesus.
God’s new world has begun on Easter. In the Exultet, it says that heaven and earth are now joined together because of Easter. It has begun, and Jesus is the prototype of man in this new earth. The way to live there is to follow Jesus; and the good news we are to proclaim is that this new earth, this new creation has already begun.
John, in his gospel, began by talking how the Word was in the beginning, and that the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Through Him, all things were made, and apart from Him, nothing was created. Through Him all things were made. Then, man sinned and Jesus chose to become part of creation as a man. He dies on the sixth day (the same day man was created). He rests in the ground on the seventh day (just as God rested on this day), and then, He rises again on the first day of the week. It is a new week. On the first day of the week, Jesus rises!
Nicholas T. Wright writes, “John 20 stresses twice (in verse 1 and 19) that Easter is the first day of the new week. John has so ordered his gospel that the sequence of seven signs, climaxing in the cross of Jesus Christ on the sixth day and His resting in the tomb on the seventh day, functions as the week of the old creation; and now Easter functions as the beginning of the new creation. The Word through whom all things were made is now the Word through whom all are remade. Jesus’ resurrection is to be seen as the beginning of the new world, the first day of the new week, the unveiling of the prototype of what God is now going to accomplish in the rest of the world.”
Athanasius said, “The renewal of creation has been wrought by the self-same Word Who made it in the beginning. There is thus no inconsistency between creation and salvation because the one Father has employed the same agent for both works, effecting the salvation of the world through the same Word Who made it in the beginning.” God used Jesus to create the whole of creation; and since creation was marred by sin, God used Jesus to save this creation. Salvation and creation are both by the grace of God, a demonstration of His love for His creation. God hates nothing that He created. He would go to the extent of sacrificing the life of His own Son to redeem His creation. God hates nothing that He created.
God does not hate anyone. He is not angry at us. He gave His Son to die for us and to rise again so that we would have life.
Jesus was recreated first and then, it was man, and then, the rest of creation. Jesus’ resurrection presents a hope for something more and better, and it invades our present realities for us even though we may be going through a lot of struggles in life. The new creation begins in the midst of brokenness, in the misery, and in the imperfection. Mary was in misery; she was in the midst of mourning when Jesus announced to her the birth of the new creation.
A writer explained that Mary supposed Jesus as the gardener, and she may not have been mistaken. Jesus is a Gardener. Adam was the old gardener and he failed in keeping and cultivating Eden. Now, as Jesus promised, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” Jesus opened Paradise as the new Gardener, as the new Keeper of Eden. He opened Eden back to man, and to welcome him back to His paradise.
The last two chapters of Revelation give us a picture of what that new world will be like in its fullness. The New Jerusalem will come down from heaven to earth, not by the way of a brand new replacement of earth. The Greek word of the new earth means old one with a new nature and a new quality. There is going to be a reunion of heaven and earth. In the beginning, heaven and earth were one, but sin and death drew a wedge between them. Now, on Easter and because of Jesus’ resurrection, heaven and earth are wedded again and in union again. Eternity, in restored earth, has God dwelling with man. Behold, the Tabernacle of God is among man. There are no more tears; no more death; no more mourning; no more crying; no more pain. Old things have passed away, behold, new things have come.
We, as new creatures, whoever is in Christ, can join this beginning. He can live the very bright future today. This is our hope. St. Paul says in Romans 8 that creation itself will be set free from the slavery of corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. In the meantime, the Holy Spirit groans in us. We will experience struggles in life, but He empowers us to live as though the new earth has begun. It has indeed begun! We are a new creation. It is not a prophecy, but a present reality. It is up to us to join Christ in this present world right here, right now, to implement this and to live according to the future new earth and new heaven.
Change is not coming. Change has come. In fact, it has come 2000 years ago. We advance that change as new creatures. Jesus said, “The Holy Spirit will come when I go, and I will send Him and He will disclose to you what is to come.” It is not the ability to predict the future, but the Holy Spirit will show us the fullness of what is waiting for us which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, so that we will be inspired and empowered to live here when it is not yet seen in its fullness because we are going to be the instrument of that getting into fullness. It is in the world beyond oppression, violence, war, greed, tyranny, exploitation, victimizing people, poverty, sickness and disease.
The way of the world is passing away. Choose life! All these evil things will be denied access into the world to come. Only the things of love and of God will be able to go through. Since the fall, creation has been subjected to futility into the lies of death, and the enemy of life. Easter reverses this and Jesus opened the door for the New Jerusalem.
Just as through one man sin and death entered into the world, so through one Man life is given to all. Do we realize this? Many believe that we inherited the sin of Adam because we came from him. We forget that the Scriptures say that we also inherited the life and the freedom from Christ. Why do we believe in the negative, not the positive? Just as through one man, sin and death entered into the world, so all died. Even so, in Christ, life has entered into the world and all will be made alive.
This is what Easter does for us. How shall we then live? What is the Christian in this day and age? A Christian is one who lives His baptismal identity. He already died to the old ways, to the old world, and has joined Christ in the new life and the life of the world to come. He is here present now living in this kind of life.
As baptized Christians, may we be reminded of our roles. We are the future people living in the present. We belong to the future new world, to the new creation and Jesus is inviting us to live this love now in this present times. It will come to its fullness. We will still have our struggles, but our calling as baptized Christians is to be dead to the old world and we are alive in Christ and into the new life that He has offered.
We have been hurled into the future – God’s redemptive future, into God’s eternal life. Baptism is the door for this and it makes this future a reality. In the still present reality of death and its symptoms, we are to embody Christ’s resurrected life which all of us have. We all have the potential of living this because Jesus has given life to all
This side of our resurrection represents the coming of age so that we can inspire others and say to them, “There is a better future that is waiting for you than what we are experiencing right now.” This is our calling. Holiness is not based on the moral, legalistic code, but on a demonstration of the nature and the life of the sons of the Resurrection.
This is what Easter brought. This is who we are, and this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.