One cannot celebrate the Resurrection without first being grounded in the Passion and death of Christ. During Holy Week, we journeyed through these inseparable experiences in an effort to enter into Christ’s encounter with his Passion, death and Resurrection. Although it is difficult for us to understand what Christ experienced, we can somehow glimpse the experience through our own encounters with this mystical experience of death and Resurrection.
Throughout our lives, we suffer through painful experiences, empathize with others in their agony, endure hardships that come our way, accompany others in their grief and counsel those in distress who cross our paths. In these experiences, we enter into Christ’s own Passion in the hope of Resurrection.
Christ took on our humanity so that he might know what challenges us, causes us pain and paralyzes us with fear. Christ could have walked our roads easily without being “one” with us. He could have chosen to be simply a preacher and a bystander. He could have left us with a gospel of challenging quotes and meaningful dissertations, but he wanted to give us more. He wanted to give us everything. He became human and entered into our human experience.
Christ revealed to us in his own suffering the assurance that there is something greater. Something beyond what our bodies and minds suffer through. It is difficult to enter into this mystery of pain and hope, death and Resurrection. We want to rail against it. We at times would rather curse the darkness. We often wonder why we seem to be forsaken. This is exactly what Christ entered into when he lived among us. He agonized, railed against and cursed the darkness as a human being whose divinity reminded him that there was more beyond this suffering.
As we are made in the image of God, we too can hear the whisper of divinity in the midst of our suffering, reminding us that there is something greater beyond what we now endure.
A woman being treated for cancer can witness the living of the Passion of Christ in the lives of those who surround her. Women of all ages walk through the cancer center knowing what the outcome could be, yet their faces radiate great hope. Many reach out in the midst of their own pain and worry to comfort another whose hope seems to be waning. Some are just beginning treatment; others have returned after doctors found a recurrence of cancer. Nurses, physicians and other staff members seek to make each woman undergoing treatment comfortable and reassured. They share warm blankets, listen with concern, engage in moments of laughter and hold the hands of those who need to know someone is near.
In these experiences, the woman with cancer can find Christ present in his own Passion, and also be graced to experience Christ’s rising from death, darkness and despair through the goodness of so many.
One can only recognize the Resurrection in its fullness by walking through the passion and death that we will all someday experience. Passion and death will manifest themselves in ways unique to each of us: physical pain, loss, betrayal, hatred, jealousy, misunderstanding, rejection, mental anguish, doubt and more. Christ entered into each of these experiences. He became one with us “in all things but sin,” and he longs to share in our experiences of passion and death, calling us through these experiences into Resurrection.
As we continue to celebrate the Easter season, we must consider the cost of Resurrection. It requires us to walk through every life experience with the deep assurance that we do not walk alone, that the one who loves us beyond any measure chose to engage in his own Passion and death as well as in ours.
When the Alleluia is sung, we are challenged to recognize the undertones that create the full-bodied expression of life and resurrection in song as well as in our everyday experiences. A blessed Easter season.