This is a guest post by Michael Sanem, originally published at his blog Incarnation is Everywhere.
“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
– Pope John Paul II
What does it mean to be an Easter people? What does it mean to celebrate the resurrection?
For some, it is purely a comfort, a sign that life continues in some transfigured form after death, and that death is not the end of our stories.
And that’s a good start, but there’s so much more to the story. Jesus’ resurrection isn’t a comfort, it’s a mission statement. It’s not an electric blanket, but a command to follow in his footsteps.
What was Jesus’ mission? What has he come to do? Why does the resurrection matter not just for the dead but for the living, indeed all living and loving things?
The following is from Bishop Robert Barron, and provides a key for understanding what the resurrection means for us, the Easter people:
[In his inaugural address,] Jesus reads words from the prophet Isaiah that he felt best summed up who he was and what his mission was. Therefore it behooves us to listen carefully.
Jesus first says, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me.” The Ruach Yahweh, the breath of God, the spirit that hovered over the surface of the waters at the beginning of time, the life energy of God—this is what has seized and animated Jesus.
Animated by the Ruach Yahweh, what does Jesus do? He brings “glad tidings to the poor,” “liberty to captives,” and “recovery of sight to the blind.” In other words, he brings God’s love to those who are marginalized by injustice, freedom to those who are imprisoned in sin, and healing to those whose very self has been broken.
After the Paschal Mystery and Resurrection, he breathed on his disciples, communicating to them something of this spirit—and drawing them into this mission.
To be an Easter people is to continue living in communion with the Breath of God, even in the face of suffering, death, and despair. The world might crush you, imprison you, disillusion you, even kill you. But the Spirit of God will carry us forward into every dark corner, where we proclaim the overwhelming love of the Lord of life.
The resurrection of Christ is not just a guarantee of life after death, it’s a guarantee of life before death too: full abundant life in union with God. We are called to live in communion with this ever-present, all-permeating Breath of God, and let it inspire us to continue the mission of Jesus the Christ in the world: the redemption and salvation of all things.
Michael J. Sanem is a Catholic family man living in Kansas City. He teaches and writes about Christ present to all people, especially those at the margins, where he is privileged to minister.