Godtalk: Easter Joy


Sunrise - Copyright Graham Loveland and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons.

Death is a stark reality of our existence.  No one  escapes its clutches.  Faced with this there is, understandably, a tendency even among Christians, to fear it and avoid the subject.  Yet the question stares us in the face:  what us the meaning of life and death?

The answer is in what we  celebrate at Easter, because One death changed the meaning of all deaths.  The death of Christ on Calvary reversed the meaning of life.  Whereas the world sees death as the end, for Christians  it is the beginning of new life in its fullness – ‘what no eye has seen or ear has heard.’  Through Christ, our life and death have new meaning.

He assures us that however grave our sin, however shameful our conscience may be, God is ready to forgive if we are truly sorry and want to live better lives.  Through his death Christ Jesus has given new life, new hope to countless millions.

Jesus’ death is like the grain of wheat falling to the earth and dying. The result was the  harvest of a Church, consisting of all God’s faithful people.  Apart fromsin, Jesus took to himself every aspect of our human nature and that includes death.

Our nature instinctively recoils at the thought of death, and Jesus experienced this fear himself.  He struggled with the instinct to run away from the death he was facing at Gethsemane, as can happen for example, with those  diagnosed with a terminal illness: some may not find acceptance difficult, but for others, especially younger people, it can be very hard.  Jesus identified himself fully with all who have to come to terms with their own approaching death. 

His struggle ended with his victorious   acceptance of the death which he felt the Father had willed for him.  He faced the painful fear,  rose above it to put his trust in his Father and then serenely accepted his impending death.

When we feel alarmed at the prospect of death, let us remember with confidence that Christ has trodden this path before us.  Like him, let us too face the fear,  and surrender in complete trust to the will of the Father.

Easter joy assures us that whenever, wherever, however it comes, death, as it was for Jesus, will be our entry into the glory of life eternal.

Peter Knott SJ