HE IS NOT HERE, FOR HE HAS RISEN!
Quite some time ago, there was a most extraordinary and delightfully entertaining movie entitled The Ten Commandments. It was produced and directed by the legendary Cecile B. DeMille – a creative genius, with a charismatic imagination and a prolific flair for the spectacular and sensational.
We are told that on one occasion, Cecile B. DeMille wished to have time for both rest and relaxation. And so, he drove himself to a distant lake, got into a canoe and rowed himself to the very centre. There he stopped and opened a book and began reading. From his peripheral vision, he could see water beetles playfully skimming the surface of the water like seasoned ice skaters. They were truly having a very good time.
Suddenly Cecil B. DeMille saw one water beetle climb onto the side of the canoe, dig its talons into the wood so as to get a firm grip, and then just died -right before his eyes. DeMille was perplexed. It was as though the insect had a premonition of its impending death, and instinctively chose the right time and place.
Three hours later, DeMille turned his attention to the water beetle. What he saw literally astounded him beyond words. With the rays of the sun, the shell of the water beetle had dried. Then it cracked open just like a walnut and out came a beautiful dragon fly – first the moist head, then the winds and finally the legs.
Once free, the newly-born dragon fly began to hover right above his one-time companions on the surface of the water. And he seemed to be saying to them, “Look fellows, look up and see for yourselves what a marvellous transformation has occurred. Only a few hours ago, I was like any one of your, merely skimming the surface of the water. But now I am free to do as I please and to fly wherever I want – I’m totally free!
- • When DeMille looked at the water beetle sink its talons into the side of the canoe, he was reminded of Christ Jesus, who was nailed to a Cross.
• The beetle died while fastened to the canoe; Christ Jesus died while nailed to the Cross.
• Three hours later, the beetle underwent a marvellous transformation becoming a beautiful dragon fly; three days later Christ Jesus underwent a marvellous transformation as he rose from the dead -glorious and triumphant.
• The dragon fly kept hovering over his one-time playmates, but they did not recognise him; Christ Jesus appeared to some of his followers, but they could recognise him.
• Gently nudging the shell of the one-time water beetle, DeMille realised that it was just an empty shell; and that is what the followers of Jesus found to their stunned belief – an empty tomb – Jesus was not there; he had risen.
• Said the heavenly messenger to the terrified followers of Jesus: “Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive? Jesus is not here; he has been risen as he had said.” (Lk.24:1-6)
This illustrative example rightly depicts just what happened to Jesus on Easter Sunday – he rose from the dead in a body that had been gloriously and marvellously transformed. In other words, it was the very same Jesus in the very same body that had been buried in the tomb. But it was now a glorious body that had made a quantum leap forward into a higher, different, infinitely better, and supremely marvellous state. Therein lies the mystery and the magic of the Resurrection of our victorious Lord and triumphant Saviour, Jesus Christ! This is why St. Augustine very rightly said: “We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song!”
My dear brothers and sisters, today we are celebrating the most important feast in our liturgical calendar. The Resurrection of Christ Jesus is a clear and unmistakable proof of what is in store for each and every one of us by virtue of our Baptism, and our lifelong commitment to Christ Jesus – the Way, the Truth and the Life. Said Jesus: “I am the Resurrection and the Life; the one who believes in me will never die but will have eternal life.” That is God’s guaranteed, unconditional and most reassuring promise.
I say this with the added conviction that “through death, life is changed not ended.” And this is the blessed state of our dear departed. Undoubtedly, we do miss the physical presence of our dear departed. But we have the guaranteed assurance that, like the transformed water-beetle, they have been gloriously transformed and eternally happy in the heavenly mansions.
Said the apostle, Paul: “For us our homeland is in heaven, and from heaven will come Christ Jesus, our Risen Lord and Saviour, who will transfigure these wretched bodies into copies of his glorious body.” Our dear departed will always hereafter be our closest and best intercessors with God, for they are where they rightly belong – in heaven, with God and for ever!
Said Jesus: “I am the Resurrection and the Life; the one who believes in me will live even though he dies.” For all of us, thanks to Jesus our Risen Lord, there is life after life – everlasting life, perennial happiness, and eternal peace. “We are indeed an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song!”