RESURRECTION VS RESUSCITATION: A HOMILY ON EASTER SUNDAY
What exactly do we mean when we say Jesus rose from the dead? Is it the same thing as Resuscitation where life goes out of a body and suddenly it comes back to it again?
On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went towards the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead:
First, Jesus died and was buried. He really died as we can see from the good friday readings. He did not just faint, but he died and was buried. His side was pierced with a lance. If every other thing that happened to Him did not kill Him, that would. Suddenly Mary Magdalene saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. That cannot be done by a dead person, since dead bodies cannot not move their own bodies let alone move anything else. The first evidence of the resurrection is the stone which was rolled away. The first evidence of our own resurrections will also be the impossible made possible.
Since dead bodies do not move stones, the only way to explain it is that someone else did it. It could not have been Jesus Himself.
If someone else did it, all the cloths will not be lying there still. It is clear that this was not done by someone else. It is done by Jesus Himself. But why did he leave all His cloths behind? Does that mean he went out naked? Has he been resuscitated? Not after three days of being dead certainly. So, what exactly happened to Him?
The Resurrection is not the same as resuscitation. One way of understanding the resurrection is with the image of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. The caterpillar first goes into a cocoon, where it remains motionless for 10 to 14 days, after which it breaks open the cocoon and comes out as a butterfly. In this process three things stand out. First, the cocoon can be seen as a grave. Secondly the motionlessness of the caterpillar is an image of death. Thirdly, and most importantly, after its ‘resurrection’ it is the same thing that changed from a caterpillar to a butterfly, yet, it has taken up a different body and a different mode of existence.
This is why when Jesus would later appear to the people, they would struggle to recognise Him. Does that mean he looked different? I don’t know, but it certainly was not easy to recognise Him. He could also walk into a room when all the doors are closed. Is that the same as being a ghost? He also ate some fish and Thomas and others were able to touch Him, and He said Himself that he is not a ghost. So, the resurrection is not the same as resuscitation. It is taking on a new form of existence. Does that mean it is only spiritual? No, it is both spiritual and physical as we see in the gospels.
In those days: Peter opened his mouth and said, “You know the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached. How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest; not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.
First Peter states that God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power and the reason he was able to cast out devils and cure sicknesses was because God was with him. God was the driving force behind every action of Jesus. This is important for us also who are baptised into Christ to know that our salvation and our own resurrection is not something we must work our for ourselves. God is the driving force in the power of the Holy Spirit. Any effort we make is a cooperation with this work of God. Jesus was totally dependent on the Father. That is why before his death he said “Father, into your hands, I commend my Spirit.”. So, who rolled the stone away? The Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Here again we see Peter giving as evidence of a physical resurrection the fact that they ate and drank with Jesus. He also states that God raised him from the dead. But why did Jesus not reveal himself to all the people after his resurrection? Some people say it is because the resurrection was something that happened to the disciples rather than something that happened to Jesus. It was more the disciples experiencing his presence than Jesus actually being with them. In other words, they were hallucinating. It was just their imaginations. However, the resurrection is not the same as resuscitation. Only people of faith can understand it, just as it will be difficult to understand that the butterfly is that which previously had been a caterpillar. When we die also, the body we have now will decay, but God will give us a new body, the resurrected body, which at the same time is not a new body as it will still be our body.
Before we worry about the resurrection on the last day, we should worry about daily resurrection. The bible tells us that anyone living in sin is like a dead person. forgiveness of sins is a kind of resurrection from the dead, since sin is being bound by the devil. We experience these daily resurrections through the sacraments, especially confession. Each time a person goes into the confessional, it is like going into the grave (the cocoon), and coming out is like God rolling away the stone which has kept us dead. We leave behind the cloths of death and take on the cloths of life. We do not begin a new life with cloths meant for dead bodies. Our sins are cloths meant for dead bodies and to live with them is to be bound by satan.
Brethren: If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory: As resurrection people, we are to always seek the things that are above, rather than things of earth. Where have we set our minds? If resurrection is resuscitation, it means that after confession, we are to go back to the way we were before, just like saying the caterpillar should return to being a caterpillar after being in the cocoon. No, that will not be good enough. We rise to a completely new way of living; we rise from a natural way of living to a supernatural way of living. If Jesus, having died in this miserable world is to be resuscitated, then what is the sense of living continuously in this misery. No, when we rise with Jesus, it will not be to this way of living with all its pain and missery. God can do far better than that. It will be to a completely new way of living. The butterfly is certainly more beautiful than a caterpillar and superior to it also. But that is a very weak example compared to the resurrection.If Jesus was only resuscitated, then we can only be resuscitated and that will not be a great idea to come back to the mode of existence we are in now. God has a far superior plan to raise us from humanity to divinity, from mortality to immortality, from natural to supernatural, from addiction to freedom, from sinfulness to sanctity, from the ground to grace, from worldliness to heavenliness, from earth to heaven, from time to eternity.
I once watched a movie where a man was resuscitated and with all the problems he began to face after that, he was not happy. He kept asking God why he did not remain dead. Our present mode of existence is too painful for us to wish that it continues for all eternity. The resurrection fills us with Joy and fills us with hope. We are not going to be resauscitated. God forbid! We are going to rise with Christ.