Power beyond the grave
And the vine was nailed to two planks of dead wood; whereupon the fruit blossomed and the birds came and the branches set forth the brightest light the world has ever seen.>
At the heart of real Christianity is the life of Jesus. He was a man who came into a world which was antagonistic to most of the principles that he espoused. But he was not deterred. He marched on. Nothing could stop him. He challenged every perception of human origin that he encountered. He built his tent among us, as St. John's Gospel puts it. Yet, he was far from being at home in this world.
In his day, he met with hostility from several quarters. Particularly, did he encounter opposition from those who benefited from the society in which they lived. Their perception of the good life was the domination of others. They held fast to their privileged positions. And they sprang into action only when they felt that their interests were threatened.
St. John's Gospel tells us that the powers that be were jealous of Jesus, and that is why they killed him. and here we are brought face to face with the root of most of the problems of division in our societies. There is ruthless competition. People tend to think that their prosperity and salvation lie in crushing others.
In the face of this corruption of society, Jesus preached love for one another. This love was not to be limited to those who favour us, those who promote our interests, those who tell us what fine fellows we are, those who endeavour to build up our image. On the contrary, Jesus exhorted his followers to love their enemies, to do good to those who hate them, to pray for those who persecute them. In doing that, they would be imitating their heavenly Father, who makes his rain fall and his sun shine on good and evil men alike.
Yes, real Christianity is a call to love. it is a call to place others before ourselves. It is an invitation to sacrifice our interests, our own welfare, that others may find life, yes, life in all its fullness. "By this will all men know that you are my disciples: if you have love for one another."
An old Latin saying, quoted by Pope Benedict XVI, states: "Omnia vincit amor.Et nos cedamus amori" (Love conquers all. Let us therefore yield to love).
Christ, who overcame the grave , has left us the supreme message of love. Love is the one thing that can overcome the world. in fact, to love is to transcend the world and its false values.
Love is the great principle that has challenged the world and drawn men and women throughout the ages irresistibly to Christ. Because a poor, humble, helpless man once preached the power of love and confirmed it by his death, men and women in every age have found peace and joy. In fact, many have sacrificed the human power which they enjoyed to robe themselves with that power which alone will endure. This power can be obtained only through love.
We live in a society, where most of the news appears to be related to competition and confrontation. People seem to take delight in cutting down their perceived opponents. They are not content with refusing to fellowship with those who challenge them. They seek to destroy them. We should learn from the example of President Abraham Lincoln of the United States of America. During the American Civil War of 1861 - 1865, in which the North fought against the South, when he was asked why he was treating Southerners so well, his reply was that he was treating them well so as to convert them into friends.
It is not easy to accept and embrace the message of love. Some people will take advantage of you. Some will be led to walk over you because you are easy prey. They have nothing to fear. But here is the great challenge of the Christian. To love, we must be men and women of deep faith. To believe in the power of love, we must be people who do not anchor ourselves in this world. We must be people who look beyond the grave.
EASTER is a powerful invitation to walk with Christ through death to life. It is a call given to mature Christians, people who have a strength beyond what the world can give. It is a challenge to march on and pursue the very difficult journey of living life in all its fullness.
EASTER is an assurance that, even if our good actions are not embraced, even if our efforts lead to failure or rejection, all is not lost. Even if all our achievements are piled up and consigned to a huge bonfire, nothing is lost. On the contrary there is victory. For the power of love conquers all. Love is a power that overcomes the grave.