Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Like what you’re reading? Check out the archive of past reflections.
by Fr. Sal Cuccia, O. Praem.
Twelve hours after the gulf war ended, on Thursday, February 27, 1991, a Kansas mother received the news that every mother prays she will never receive. Two army officers walked into the factory where she worked and told her that her son Clayton had been killed in action. She went home to mourn her loss.
On Friday night, while she was in the kitchen, the phone rang. The voice on the other end said, “Mom, it’s Clayton! I’m alive!” He had to repeat those words three times before his mother realized what he was saying. He went on to say that his hand and foot had been wounded by a land mine, but he was now walking around on crutches. He was feeling great. His mother began to cry. This time her tears were those of incredible joy. Her son was alive. When asked how she would celebrate her son’s return home, she said, “I’ll just hug him to death!”
This story is similar to what happened in Jerusalem. Like Jesus, Clayton had met death at the hands of enemies as he performed a service for others. As was true in the case of Jesus, Clayton’s death was mourned for nearly two days. As was true in the case of Jesus, the news that Clayton was alive and not dead filled his mother with incredible joy. As was the case of Jesus, Clayton bore the wounds of his ordeal. The similarity stops here.
Clayton was only thought to be dead. Jesus was truly dead. Clayton’s new life was a restoration of his former life. Jesus’ new life was a life that no person had ever experienced. Jesus’ new life involved resurrection, not resuscitation.
Resurrection does not mean restored to one’s previous life. This is what happened to Lazarus, the son of the widow of Naim, and Jarius’ daughter. Resurrection is something infinitely more. It is a totally new life. The body of Jesus that rose on Easter Sunday was radically different from the body that was buried on Good Friday. St. Paul compares a body before and after resurrection to a seed and the plant that emerges from it. He says: when the body is buried, it is mortal; when buried, ugly and weak; when raised, it will be beautiful and strong; when buried it is a physical body; when raised, it will be a spiritual body.
Easter tells us that the personal transformation of life that took place in Jesus is not something reserved for him alone. It is something that will take place in each of us. We are destined for resurrection. We are destined to share in the transformed life that Jesus now enjoys in heaven.
The Easter stories in the bible tell us that not only was Jesus transformed but also that his disciples were transformed. Easter transformed them from a group of despairing people into a community of daring witnesses. Jesus sent them to bring the message of Easter to the world. Everywhere they preached the good news; the transforming power of Easter began to work in the lives of people just as it had in their own lives. Despair gave way to hope; darkness to light; sorrow to joy; hatred to love.
This is the good news of Easter we have come together to celebrate.
We are destined to be transformed someday as Jesus was on this day. Jesus transforms our present lives just as he did the lives of his disciples after his resurrection.
May our hearts be open to the transforming power of our risen Lord as we witness the baptism of these children; as we renew our baptismal promises.