Acts 10:34a, 37 – 43 Col. 3:1-4 John 20 : 1 -9
The resurrection of Jesus vindicates that the forces of life are stronger than the forces of death.
Pope St. John Paul II talks of two types of cultures, prevailing in our world: the culture of life and the culture of death. The culture of life includes all those things that promote the value of life, truth, humanness, love, goodness etc.. The culture of death implies a highly materialistic and consumeristic way of life, selfishness as its core.
Needless to say that among these two cultures, the culture of death seems to be invincible, more powerful and prevailing everywhere. A peripheral perception of the realities around would make us believe that it is the people of the culture of death that can survive here on earth. Such are the tentacles of the culture of death prevailing everywhere. However the resurrection of Jesus explicates that the ultimate victory is for the culture of life. Even though the culture of death poses itself very powerful and invincible, its longevity and durability is very short and fickle. That is what the resurrection of Jesus as well as the history of the world point to.
The event of resurrection is not important for the person of Jesus alone, but for the whole of humanity, because it is the event that has proved beyond all doubts that life is stronger than death, that the good is more powerful than the evil, that light is greater than darkness, that truth is more enduring than falsehood.
When we look at the life of Jesus, we understand that he was constantly besieged by the forces of culture of death. Let us try to look at how the culture of death tried to prevail over him:
-When Jesus was born, Herod tried to get rid of the future Messiah.
-The Pharisees and the Scribes who were the staunch opponents of Jesus, and who promoted the culture of death in the name of safeguarding the laws, tried to get away with him through various means. They abused his name by saying that he was out of his mind (Mk. 3:21), and by propagating that he was possessed with Beelzebul (Mk. 3:22).
-By raising tricky and sensitive questions about paying tax to Caesar, about life after death, they tried to contain Jesus, the very source of life (Mk. 12th chapt.).
-When all the other methods failed to stop him, they finally managed to put him to death, that too a cruel death as criminal. Such a shameful death made many people, including his own disciples and followers, believe that the culture of death completely prevailed over the culture of life. However it was just an appearance, not the reality. The resurrection of Jesus vindicates that the culture of life, though can be sidelined for some time, cannot be completely won over. That is what St. Peter preached (the focus of the first reading)
Living the culture of Life
As agents of culture of life, it is this belief in the powerfulness of the culture of life that we are called to constantly hold in our hearts in our life journey. St. Paul, in the second reading, writes, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Here it is not proper to understand the word “earth” as the planet where we live now, and ‘the world above’ as heaven. That will lead to a dualistic frame of mind, besides portraying this beautiful earth in a poor light. Rather the proper understanding would be that ‘the earth’ refers to a situation in which the culture of death prevails, while the ‘the world above’ refers to a life-situation that embraces culture of life.
We are called to constantly renounce all sorts of temptations to embrace the culture of death and to voluntarily embrace all those things, especially love, that promote culture of life. That is the meaning of being ‘Easter people.’
History of the Bible is nothing but the history of the people who went with ‘the armoury of the Lord’ and opposed those who came ‘with the armoury of the world’. For example, David, in order to oppose Goliath, first, at the behest of Saul, tried to have recourse to the ‘armour of the world.’ He dressed himself in the armour of power and strength. But it only paralysed him (1Sam. 17: 38-39). If he had gone with those weapons to encounter Goliath, he would have surely been lost. He rather won because he went in the name of the Lord of hosts.
Mahatma Gandhi was a person who had recourse to truth and ahimsa (the path of non-violence) in order to oppose the British. (Truth is the weapon of the culture of life). Many considered Gandhi was weak since he had opted for a weapon that does not apparently hurt enemies. However, today the whole world recognizes that only such a weapon can never fail. However even Gandhi had moments of mistrust in the weapon he had taken up and had temptation to recourse to violence. He explains how he overcame it: “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end they always fall… think of it , always.”
Sometimes the weapons we recourse to, such as forgiveness, truthfulness and honesty, non-violence etc., may look to be ridiculous and insignificant to our enemies and even to our friends. But it is precisely through these ‘ridiculous’ weapons, God brings forth victory. It is in the face of ‘insignificant weapon, the evil falls on its own.”
Loving Father, may we constantly take effort to be the agents of the culture of life and overcome all temptations to be at the service of the culture of death, Amen.