Browsing Reflections

Fr. Jo's Reflection for Easter Sunday Yr B, April 4th, 2021

If the devil thought death could swallow Jesus, that the grave would hem him in, he was terribly mistaken. Lucifer got tricked and swept off his feet today as his entire empire collapsed. The plan he masterminded at which he led humanity to commit the sin of deicide flawed. The execution day became rather a Good Friday; Easter became the devil’s April Fool. He was not only outsmarted, he was fooled beyond words. The apparatchiks he put together to ensure the destruction of Jesus, the truth, and the saving message He brought, all got pilloried. Christ lives to die no more. But that’s not a declarative statement to which every ear that hears it will give assent. If anything, the resurrection was not only strange to many but also unnerving. It was so two millennia ago and remains so today. Every possible effort was made by the authorities—including bribing the guards stationed at the tomb—to change the story to that of robbery of Jesus’ dead body by his disciples (Matt 28:11-15). To suggest that the disciples of Jesus who all ran away the moment Jesus was arrested would came to a tomb guarded by a contingent of Roman soldiers and steal his dead body doesn’t just sound ludicrous but also utterly risible. Two things that are very expensive to service and maintain are lies and luxury. It didn’t take long for the theft allegation to fall apart. They needed a “better” lie but that would even cost more to maintain. Truth doesn’t need maintenance. It only needs time to unfold, like pregnancy. So, after 2000 years, the truth of Christ’s resurrection has woken you up and brought you here today. The prime evidence for the resurrection wasn't what was found but what was not there.

Do you know that when Native Americans bury their dead they include food supplies for the deceased to journey to a happy hunting ground? And among the Bini, the Oba was known to be buried with seven human heads and a number of attendants to serve him in the netherworld. Similarly, the Egyptians buried their Pharos with gold treasures. In fact, the tomb of Tutankhamon, a 14th century king, discovered in 1922 had gold treasures that tourists who visit the tombs of the Pharos can view. You’ve perhaps heard the story of the man who made his wife promise him that she'll put $25,000 on his casket when he’s buried. Upon his death, the wife obliged him that request and wrote him a check of $25,000. I hope he finds a Wells Fargo in Sheol. The treasure discovered at Christ’s tomb which has bewildered humanity for two thousand years was not gold or silver or a million dollars. It was rather the priceless find of an “empty tomb.” No treasure can start to compare with that of an empty tomb.

The empty tomb is the “April Fool” that taunts the only enemy we’re allowed to have, namely, the devil. The empty tomb means that Christ did not experience decay or corruption. For us, it means that death, as St. Paul says, is swallowed up in victory and loses its sting (I Corinthians 15:54). The mystery of death is forever solved and, as the Divine Liturgy says: “We [now] proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection, until you come again.” The empty tomb has completely changed who we are. We have become a people of the resurrection. This is not just an insurance policy, rather a total transformation in which we’re immersed through baptism. That last line may sound difficult to grasp, but it means plainly this: Our old nature was a corrupt one—we’re born, we live for a while, we die, we rot. Our new nature is different—we’re reborn in baptism, we live for Christ, we die with Him, we’re raised to glory with Him in heaven. St. Paul says, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not what is on earth” (Colossians 3:1-3). Rise above humanity; embrace divinity.

Fr. Chukwudi Jo Okonkwo



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