By Fr. Rolando Dela Rosa
Today, Easter Sunday, you might read the newspapers, which are filled with stories of crimes, terrorism and abuse, rape and murder, oppression and exploitation — and you might wonder, did anything actually change after the resurrection?
Come to think of it, even as Jesus was walking out of the empty tomb, the Jews were still being taken advantage of by the Romans, still suffering and causing others to suffer.
So, let’s face it, we are not naïve enough to believe that when Jesus walked out of the tomb that first Easter morning, everything changed in an instant.
It is not true that all things were made new once and for all, that death was conquered, and misery was no more.
Until today, people still suffer; people still die.
I believe that when Jesus walked out of the tomb that first Easter morning, nothing in this world instantly changed.
Rather, everything BEGAN to change.
The resurrection is not a promise fully realized.
It’s a call to stop standing idly by and start cooperating actively with God’s grace to make the promise of the resurrection come true in us. And what is the promise of the resurrection?
I once attended a birthday party of a friend who turned 75.
His children and grandchildren were there celebrating.
I noticed however that he did not look very happy.
So after the party, I asked him: What’s the matter? You’re supposed to celebrate. But you look sad.
And he answered: “I am blessed with long life, but I’m sad because when I look back, I feel that I have done very little during these 75 years. I have accomplished and achieved very little. I am afraid that when I face God, He might ask me: ‘What have you done?’And then I will be ashamed because I have done very little that will qualify me to enter heaven.”
Like that friend of mine, many of us have the wrong idea that when we die and face our Creator, He would ask us: “What have you done?
We wrongly think that in order to get to heaven, we must bring along a list of our accomplishments, achievements, and successes and present these to God and say: “Here, these are proofs that I have done well on earth. Now let me enter heaven.”
I think God will not ask us “What have you done?” He will ask us instead: “What has become of you?” God is more intent in being, rather than just doing. Have you become a better, happier person? Have you become the person you dreamt of when you were young?
Have you become more loving, more understanding, more forgiving, more generous towards others? Or have you become bitter, cynical, critical, irritable; a person who is hard to deal with? Have you become healthier, or have you become sickly because of self-neglect or abuse?
In a very real sense, the resurrection of Jesus opens our eyes, not to what we can do, or keep doing, but to what we can become.
The resurrected Jesus is our future.
Every day can be a resurrection experience, an opportunity to say: “I am not exactly the same as I was yesterday because, with God’s grace, I am trying to become the person God wants me to be.