Transformation into Something Greater
“Do not be frightened. He has been raised up, exactly as he promised.”
Silicon dioxide — aka sand.
Purify it, remove any traces of iron, and bleach it. Add limestone and sodium carbonate. Heat it at 1700 degrees, until the sand melts. The result: glass.
Glass that can inspire as part of a cathedral’s brilliant stained glass window, or glass that can illuminate when blown into the form of an incandescent bulb, or glass so beautiful it takes your breath away in the form of magnificent crystals.
But it starts with sand — sand that has now ceased to be sand and has instead given over its properties to create something even greater.
Tonight (Today), the Church celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead and His appearance to the women at the tomb. The resurrection of Jesus, which happened in the early hours of Sunday morning, is a fact which all the evangelists state clearly and unequivocally.
Some holy women discover to their surprise that the tomb is open. On entering the tomb, they see an angel who says to them, “He is not here; for he has risen, as he said.” The Apostles, who a couple of days before fled in fear, will, now that they have seen Him and have eaten and drunk with him, become tireless preachers of this great event: “This Jesus”, they will say, “God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses.”
The resurrection of Christ is one of the basic dogmas of the Catholic faith. In fact, St. Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain;” and, to prove his assertion that Christ, did in fact rise, St. Paul tells us “that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”
By the word ”resurrection” we are not merely to understand that Christ was raised from the dead… but that he rose by His own power and virtue, a singular prerogative peculiar to Him alone. Our Lord confirmed this by the divine testimony of His own mouth when He said: “I lay down my life, that I may take it up again…. (Because) I have the power to lay it down: and I have the power to take it up again.”
Christ’s resurrection was not a return to his previous earthly existence like that of Lazarus (or Jairus’ daughter, or the widow of Nain’s son); but it was a “glorious” resurrection, that is to say, attaining the full development of life — immortal, and freed from all limitations of space and time. And as a result of His glorious resurrection, Christ’s body now shares in the same glory which His soul always had in the Blessed Trinity. But here lies the unique nature of the historical fact of the resurrection. He could be seen not just by anyone but only by those to whom He granted that grace, to enable them to be witnesses of His resurrection, and to enable others to believe in Him by accepting the testimony of those eye witnesses.
Christ’s resurrection was something necessary for the completion of the work of our Redemption, too. For, Jesus Christ through the shedding of His Precious Blood, freed us from sins; but by His resurrection He restored to us all that we had lost through sin and, moreover, by His Ascension opened for us the gates of eternal life (at Mass we celebrate Christ’s suffering and death, His Resurrection, and His Ascension to Heaven). Also, the fact that He rose from the dead by His own power is a definitive proof that He is the Son of God, and therefore His resurrection fully confirms our faith in His divinity.
The mystery of the Redemption wrought by Christ, which embraces His death and resurrection, is applied to every man and woman, especially through Baptism and Confirmation, but also through the other sacraments, by means of which the believer is as it were immersed in Christ and in His death, that is to say, in a mystical way they become part of Christ, they dies and rise with Christ.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, sand and glass are a parable of this wondrous Easter miracle. At first glance, we see in the Crucifixion of Good Friday, God the Almighty Father who is not willing to protect his Son from the incomprehensible pain and violence of evil. But look deeper! In the complete story, we realize a God who takes on our humanity and then gives it over to become something greater. In His transformation from sand to glass, so to say, by offering His own humanity for the sake of our own humanity, the Christ of God transforms despair into hope, grief into joy, and, most amazingly, death into eternal life.
Today we behold a God who loves His creation enough to humiliate himself to become sand and then to endure the incredible and purifying suffering in order to become glass for all eternity. And to us He gives the promise and the means to transform the hard sand of our human lives into the light and brilliance and beauty of the eternal life of God. By such love and mercy, a handful of human sand can become the crystal of eternal life in heaven.
Mary, Mother of Our Redeemer, pray for us!
Easter – Cycle A
Saturday, April 15th, 2017
Matthew 28: 1-11