Forever life, forever love
GOD’S WORD TODAY - Manoling V. Francisco (The Philippine Star) - April 16, 2017 - 12:00am

Jesus was not sent into the world in order to die on the cross. He was missioned to “proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent” (Lk. 4:43), which entailed bringing glad tidings to the poor, proclaiming liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, and setting free the oppressed (Lk.4:18-19).

His cause and way of life that attracted numerous follwers enthralled by his vision and person threatened the powers-that-be, both religious and political, who connived with one another to eliminate him.

His crucifixion was thus not willed by God the Father but by sinful men. That he was “obedient unto death, death on a cross” does not mean that the Father intended his execution. Instead, he was obedient to the Father’s will that he proclaim and embody the inclusive love and universal justice, notwithstanding the dire consequences. His death therefore was the outcome of his fidelity to his mission and convictions.

The cross, paradoxically, is the symbol of human sin and violence, on the one hand, and of divine fidelity and love, on the other.

His resurrection, proclaimed in today’s Gospel, is the validation of his message and way of life, the vindication of the innocent Son who was unjustly condemned, and the revelation of the supremacy of divine love over sin and death.

Not all the Jews in Jesus’ time believed in the resurrection. The Sadducees, the priestly class, claimed that angels and other spiritual beings did not exist. They taught that this earthly life was the only life there was. On the other hand, the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law, believed in the existence of angels and the afterlife. While the latter believed in the resurrection, they did not have a concept of the individual resurrection. Instead, they believed that at the moment of death, the spirit of a person was sent to Sheol, the netherworld, and waited an eternity for the end time during which all who had died would be raised and judged.

For Mary Magdalene, her dear friend and master was dead; his body a rotting corpse. His spirit was commissioned to Sheol, the place of the dead.

Only upon hearing him call her by name did she recognize her dear friend, now the Risen Lord. That he would be raised from the dead was beyond her wildest imagination. She is the first witness to the indomitability of divine love. She becomes the first harbinger of the good news that life overcomes death, love triumphs over hatred. As the apostle to the apostles, Mary Magdalene proclaims that ultimately love wins. Love always wins.

Jesus’ paschal mystery reveals that divine love will have the last word in human history. We proclaim the victory of the cross whenever we opt to forgive despite hurt, offer friendship despite betrayal, denounce wrongdoing despite the risks, and confront evil despite fear and anxiety.

As we celebrate Easter, we ask for the grace to bear witness to the supremacy of love over hatred and violence, selfishness and greed, oppression and injustice. Lord, make us “children of Easter morn.”

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