Resurrection – what does it really mean? When I checked the exact meaning of this word I came across some interesting facts and some new insights emerged. Apart from the Christian belief that Jesus Christ was restored to life after he died on the Cross, a Roman tool of torture and execution, there is also made mention of so called resurrection plants. These are plants which can survive long periods of drought. One plant that is named is the Rose of Jericho. This plant grows in the Judean desert, and in the dry periods its leaves and stems dry up and wrap themselves into a ball around the seeds inside. This means that the seeds are well protected, but as soon as it rains again the plant unfolds and the seeds are dispersed and come to life – within hours if there is plenty of water. Often seeds stay on the plant, sprout and grow in the same place. How could that apply to ourselves in the Faith and in the Church?
Jesus used many parables and images that deal with seeds. The first that comes to mind speaks about the seeds that fall onto the ground, some by the wayside are eaten by birds, some on the stones quickly germinated but died just as quickly, some were crowded and suffocated, but those covered by good deep soil grew and yielded a decent crop (Matt. 13:3-9). The other one often remembered at this particular time of the liturgical year is of course the image of the seed of wheat falling onto the earth, dying and then producing many more seeds (Jn. 12:24). Both of these stories show how the death of Jesus would multiply his message and his followers, a peek into the future of a movement that was in its infancy.
Where I live I have a tiny garden, and I love growing food and flowers there. Every year I am amazed how some of them appear lifeless and dead in January. But then they sprout tiny leaves or peek out of the ground in a matter of weeks, irrespective of the weather. Moods and feelings can be like the weather, coming and going, but true love does not depend on exterior reactions like these.
You probably have heard someone mention ‘senior moments’ when they have forgotten or misplaced something. But I sometimes experience a wondrous variation which I call resurrection moments or ‘Easter Moments’. These are the times or moments when the returned presence of Christ becomes particularly real for me; most often during mass. Many documentaries are filmed and articles in newspapers are written which try to get to the bottom of the mystery that is the Resurrection. Yet none of them so far have been able to disperse amazement that once in the history of humanity there was a person that came back to life after he was buried.
Is it true? If this question asks for literal truth the answer probably has to be that we don’t know, otherwise it would not be the enigma which forms such an important part of the Christian faith. But there are other levels of truth, such as the mythologies of the ancient Greeks or the Dreamtime of the Australian aborigines, to name just two. They both tell something about the world and about being human. So do the stories of Jesus’ resurrection which the Evangelists of the Bible have written. Our desire for never ending life is probably as old as humankind itself, and the desire to feel that someone is in control of the events in the universe has created myriads of statues representing unearthly beings. But what does it imply when we talk about eternal life or life after death?
Not too long ago someone I loved very much has died. There never was any question in my mind that I would remember that person, but in no way was I prepared for the ongoing presence of this person in my daily life and the influence this has on the way I live. What does Christ’s resurrection mean for you personally? Is He a part of your daily life, or is he someone you just visit on Sunday mornings? How does your love for him inspire how you live your life?
Jesus lived and worked with others. In the beginning, according to the start of St John’s gospel, he worked with the Father and the Spirit. During his life on earth he may have helped in the carpentry workshop, and the first thing he did when he began his ministry was to recruit companions which became his disciples, as well as his friends. John Donne realized that ‘no man is an island of himself’, and painted the image of an extensive web of relationships. In such a community no one can be forgotten, dead or alive.
If Jesus is the heart and soul of the Church’s life we can be his body and act as such. As Eastertide continues, may we move towards multiplying resurrection experiences among ourselves, and carry the torch into the world around us.