Lazarus Moments

“You’re very another na“, youngsters quip. This quaint “Taglish” expression  resonates in Easter,  notes  Catalino Arevalo of Loyola House of  Studies.

After the resurrection, Jesus passes thru barred doors, then vanishes, Luke and John recount.  Few recognize him immediately.  Time and space are no longer constraints.  Jesus,  Luke and John observe. “He had become another.”

Traumatized disciples locked themselves into the Upper Room. They recoiled in fright when Jesus appears. “Touch me. And see for yourself  that a ghost has no flesh and bones, ” he said, displaying  nail-pierced hands and side.  “You’re very another na.

Mary Magdalene wept  outside the empty tomb. She  thought the gardener  asked  “Who are you looking for”? After Jesus calls  “Mary”,  she  “turns and (says)…  “Master.”   In Emmaus village, he  vanished after  two disciples  recognized him in “breaking of the bread”.  “You’re very another na.”

Would you know it is Easter from the newscasts?  Supreme Court chief justice Renato Corona demands  his unexplained dollar accounts remain unexplained. Fugitives Jovito Palparan and Joel Reyes thumb noses at the cops.  One out of  three  kids go hungry, Unicef reports.

North Korea prefers nukes over wheat for it’s food-short people. Over 9,000 civilians have been killed  since Syrians demanded  greater liberties a year ago, UN estimates.  Iran and its allied Lebanese force, Hezbollah, cheer the slaughter.

Like Syria ’s president Basha al Assad, few of  us think of our deaths – and what lies beyond. Yet,  Easter offers a “Lazarus moment “ to all, whether  buried in a pauper’s grave or air-conditioned mausoleum.

“Lazarus, come forth”, Christ cried into a Bethany grave, two miles from Jerusalem . The tomb’s stone cover had been  rolled away on his insistence.  “I am the resurrection and the life,” Jesus  told Lazarus’ sisters: Martha and Mary”.   Whoever believes in me, though he die, shall live.

Lazarus emerged, after being entombed for four days.  “His hands and feet (were) bound with linen strips and his face wrapped in a cloth,” John records.   “Untie him and let him go,” Jesus said.

We, too, will be untied from our inevitable burial shrouds and let go. All will have our “Lazarus moment”. “The hour is coming when all those lying in the tombs will hear my voice and come out,”  Christ  says. “Those who’ve  done good shall rise to live and those who have done evil  shall be condemned. ”

Coconut levies, overpriced police helicopters, even Lichtenstein bank accounts won’t  matter then. But mercy will, Matthew teaches.  Easter’s bottom line is about sharing our food  with the hungry, clothing the naked, soothing the sick and  reaching out  to prisoners.  “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did it to me.”

For Christ, “his deepest hurts, were those delivered from his own select group: Judas’ betrayal with a kiss and Peter’s trio of denials”, says a note from Alfredo Roces in Australia .

“We have all  felt the sting of betrayal from the trusted”. Yet, Christ’s first request after rising is: “Tell Peter….”

“There are many Easter stories, writes  Irish  theologian  Eammon Bredin  ” But they all express the same message: God did not allow Him to be held in death”.   This is not  some kind of “His cause goes on.” Rather, they assert: Jesus has been brought, through death —  into God’s future.

That experience  “brought Peter the Rock out of Simon the betrayer and  a crucified Paul out of a crucifying Saul.”  It  also forged a  church of martyrs from scattered disciples.

The roll includes  Lorenzo Ruiz of Binondo,  martyred on  Japan ’s Nishizaka Hill in 1637 and Pedro Calungsod of the Visayas. In 1672,  Calungsod   was hacked  to death  in Guam while  protecting his co-missionary: the Jesuit Diego de San Vitores.  He will be canonized at  Piazza San Pietro  on Oct 21.

In the Easter appearances, Paul and others use a  different  language.. They do not say: “We’ve seen Jesus again”,  but  “we have seen the Lord and worshiped Him.” Those who proclaim Easter in their lives, like Mother Teresa of Calcutta  or Blessed  John Paul II, sometimes  stammer to articulate its meaning.

After  Easter,  Christ was “seen by some, but not by others’, notes  Oblate columnist Ron Rolheiser. The Resurrection accounts form “an almost  perfect  parallel “ along those of the  first  Christmas.

The Child was real, not a ghost.  The shepherds saw him.  But “experts of the  law” did not. Some got  the  meaning and  this  changed their lives.” Thus,  the Magi “returned to their home country  by another way”. Other massacred every child below two in Bethlehem.

Many passed by  Calvary  only to mock  the crucified. The good thief asked only “to be remembered” and won  quarter-of-midnight entry into the kingdom.  Herod and Caiphas  “hardened their hearts.

What  enables  some to  see while others do not?  Mary Magdalene and some women  go to the tomb at dawn of  Easter.  Peter and John  race to the tomb when  told it is empty.  “Others remain as they are, locked inside their own worlds”.

“Whether we see or not, depends upon what’s going on inside our own hearts,” Rolheiser adds.  “The miraculous doesn’t force itself on us.”

In Easter 2012,  one can reach out, across 6,000 years to  a man who  spoke of the resurrection as  itaga sa bato.  Deaths had  decimated Job’s  family and flocks then. . His  friends had long  vamoosed.   And  skin cancer gnawed at him.

“I know that my Redeemer lives,” Job insisted.  “And In the end, He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.”

(Email: juan_mercado77@yahoo.com)

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