BUT DID JESUS REALLY COME BACK FROM THE DEAD? MAYBE IT WAS A GHOST? MAYBE HE DID NOT REALLY DIE?

I hope you enjoy your egg, or eggs, I mean your Easter eggs!

I am going to try not to eat too many. One would be enough. I hear there is one on the way. I think it is a kit-kat one! For many people Easter is about Easter eggs, and chickens, and spring time and maybe Spring lamb, and a break from school or work. Yes of course it’s all these things and more. If we have any little bit of faith, Easter is of course about Jesus.

A lot of people do not realise that for followers of Jesus it is actually the most important time in the year. Yes even more than Christmas! Now don’t get me wrong: of course Christmas is beautiful. However that said, Easter, and I mean the three special days that we call the Easter Triduum, actually brings us into the very heart of the Christian story.

In other words God so loved the world that he sent his only Son into the world that all might be saved. He was to suffer and die a most brutal and wholly undeserved death so that we would not die forever. Put differently Jesus died so that we would be forgiven for our sins. Of course what is crucial to Easter is the central truth that the story does not end on Good Friday but rather Easter morning.

For me my personal highlights during these sacred days include the Washing of the Feet, the Veneration of the Cross, and I love the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night. I love that we begin with fire and light outside the Church. I love the Exsultet. I love all the readings. It’s an added bonus for me if there is a baptism at the Vigil. I really love when we all renew our Baptismal promises.

I am a little surprised that people who I would have thought know the story of Jesus sometimes say very strange things. For example some people say but did He really come back to life? Did he rise from the dead?

Some go as far as to say that maybe he did not really die. It’s not so much that they are saying that he was pretending that he was dead; more that he went through the motions. This is terrible. In fact it is so wrong that it is in the realm of heresy. It comes from overemphasising the divinity of Jesus to the neglect or dilution of his humanity. What happens here is Jesus is viewed as some sort of amalgam of Spider-Man, Superman and Harry Potter! To do this is, as our granny might have said, is to fly in the face of God.

From time to time we need to remind ourselves that Jesus was fully human, fully divine. God AND man. This is our Faith. We need to be clear, he gave his last breath, he yielded his Spirit, in the fully human way in which he was tired, hungry, and in the same way that he wept.

The stories of his Resurrection, some of which survive in our four gospels, give us some very important information about the Risen Jesus. The Risen Jesus is the same Jesus they have come to know and love. Yet we note the Risen Jesus is recognisable but changed. Clearly he is now beyond death. In fact he has beaten death. The great news here is that he has beaten death not just for himself but for us. We meet the Risen Jesus AFTER he has beaten death but BEFORE he goes to the Father. Another very important thing to note is that the Risen Jesus is not a ghost. This is why we have the finger of Thomas touching the wound of Jesus. This is also why we have Jesus cooking breakfast for his disciples AND eating with them.

Not only is the Jesus story, ‘the greatest story ever told’, it is a living reality that you and I are a key part of. What comfort, what good news, that sickness and suffering and death itself, does not have the final say! Yes, enjoy the roast lamb or whatever you’re having for dinner, don’t overdo the Easter Eggs, but at some point, for yourself and all your loved ones, who have gone before you shout out, good and loud, Alleluia! Alleluia! He is Risen. Happy Easter!

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