The Resurrection of Jesus ought to bring overwhelming joy to those who claim Jesus Christ as savior. Jesus’ crucifixion — the epitome of human indignity — does not stop the God of Life. By overcoming Death, God through Jesus shows humankind the ultimate power and resilience of life and offers a more powerful alternative to Death in all of its manifestations.
God undermines all the myths and lies of Hell by tearing the proverbial door of Death off of its hinges. Jesus’ crucifixion becomes itself an act that paradoxically spotlight’s humanity’s inherent dignity in the face of utter indignity against it. In Scripture, Jesus’ lived humility, charity, suffering, and grace endure through the tortures and indignities he suffers. And in rising, Jesus shows his followers a new way, a new beginning, a renewed sense of dignity that they have always had.
Some of Jesus’ own disciples viewed his death as an unfair ending to a righteously lived life. It took an empty tomb and more than a few appearances to shift the disciples (followers) — women and men — into apostles (those sent forth). Our lives may not be anywhere near righteous, but if we call ourselves disciples of Jesus, the Resurrection graces us with the promise of regeneration of body and spirit. This promise teaches us that we are more than by-standers and more than followers. We are apostles, called to bring others to this life-giving, resurrected Jesus.
Sometimes, we focus only on the ending of a season in our lives, whatever that may be. Instead, we ought to shift our focus to the new beginning such an ending affords. The ending forces us to examine our lives, to scrutinize our behaviors and mindsets; the resurrection allows us to draw from within the courage to claim a new path, to draw a fresh breath, to erase the past and start over. It is truly what Baptism does sacramentally and symbolically, and is why Christians around the world welcome new members into the faith through baptism — at Easter, or at any time of year.
Isn’t that what is truly meant by the ancient Latin phrase Ite Missa Est? “Go, It’s the Dismissal.” We are dismissed to be no longer disciples only, but apostles proclaiming the Good News. The end of every worship service, every Mass, every solemn assembly, every season, is a new beginning.