Easter Sunday – A LIFE OF HIGHER ORDER
Acts. 10: 34a, 37-43 Col. 3: 1-4 Jn. 20: 1-9
A LIFE OF HIGHER ORDER
Let the resurrection of Jesus offer us a right perspective towards life and the world.
The experience of the risen Lord by his disciples cannot simply be equated with some solid sense experience, but at the same time with some sort of vision-type mystical encounter. While the former would run the risk of undervaluing the glorified aspect of the risen Christ, the latter can turn out to be self-validating pious hallucinations, lacking communal embeddedness. Resurrection experiences are unique, irreplaceable and incomparable events in the community of disciples. The New Testament tells us that Jesus appeared not only to individuals like Mary Magdalene, Peter, Paul and James, but also to groups of disciples such as the two, the twelve, and the five hundred. It also tells us that Jesus appeared mostly by day rather than at night or during sleep, probably indicative of the fact that resurrection encounters were deeply interwoven into busy, active and anxious everyday life of the disciples and the community.
The event of resurrection should not be seen merely as a miracle alone. Many of us seem to give a high credit to the resurrection of Jesus because it is something which nobody else has done and probably nobody else will do as Jesus did. Though the miracle aspect of the resurrection is undeniable and indisputable, the purpose of the evangelists is not so much to promote it as a miracle. Their main interest lies on two accounts: a) to portray the resurrection as a higher and newer form of life which a person enjoys as the result of renouncing the lower and older way of life, and (b) to inform us what really lasts longer.
a). A Higher Form of Living:
What we generally call ‘sin’, is nothing but the lower form of life. In the Bible, the word ‘death’ does not refer to physical death, but to sin. For example, in the parable of the prodigal son, when the younger son returned after a sinful life, we see the Father saying, “this son of mine was dead and is alive again” (Lk. 15: 24). Similarly St. Paul says, “You were dead through the trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2: 1).
So death is nothing but indulging in sinful life, while resurrection is nothing but coming out of our sin. When a person indulges in sinful activities, though it looks like one is enjoying one’s life, in reality what happens is that one is a slave to bodily passions and thus destroys oneself. On the other hand, when a person gives up one’s sinful way of life, though it looks like that one does not enjoy the sensual pleasures so much, in reality what happens is that this person enjoys serenity of heart and tranquillity of mind. It is to this way of ‘risen’ life St. Paul invites us: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” and “Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry).”
In Upanisad, there is a story! ‘There are two birds which are on the branches of a tree. One eats the fruits, but does not much seem to enjoy it. The second one does not eat anything , yet is very happy.’ This symbolic story refers to two groups of people who live here on earth (the tree). The first group, which comprises of the majority, indulges in the sensual pleasures (i.e. eating fruits), but ultimately does not seem to be happy. The second group, detached and equanimous towards the pleasures of the world, is really happy. It is these people who enjoy the peace offered by the risen Jesus; it is these people who are not conditioned by the external factors of life; it is these people who do not destroy the whole of their life for short-term enjoyment. It is a life of higher order.
2). More Powerful and More Lasting:
Resurrection is also about what really is powerful and what lasts longer. Generally, it looks like that egoism, pride, hatred etc., are more powerful than altruism, love, forgiveness etc.. In fact, what happened on Calvary seemed to prove this. Many thought that along with Jesus, all his ideals – love, atruism, self-sacrifice etc., – were crucified. It looked like that hatred and selfishness had their final word. However resurrection vindicated that what ultimately wins is not the negative, but the positive. The resurrection proved beyond doubt that hatred, pride, selfishness cannot last longer and the final victory cannot be theirs. The negativity of life has got speed, but does not have much of endurance, whereas the positivity, though does not have much of speed, is highly enduring and long-lasting.
We are living in a culture which celebrates what is immediate and tangible. Quite often we are carried away by the temporary defeat of the good and we see more and more people buying the idea that, in order to survive, we need not hesitate to do what is bad and evil. This is nothing but a lack of proper perspective of history and of the way Jesus taught us. If we really believe in the resurrection of Jesus, then we will continuously and constantly realign our life and actions with that which is positive and lasting. “The Resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over, no matter what my circumstances” says Robert Flatt.