Fr. Manuel João, comboni missionary
Sunday Reflection
from the womb of my whale, ALS
Our cross is the pulpit of the Word

At last, something NEW under the sun!

Year A – Easter Resurrection
Easter Vigil – Matthew 28:1-10
Easter Sunday – John 20:1-9

What has been will be
and what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
There is perhaps something to be said about:
“Behold, this is new”?
This very thing has already happened
in the centuries that have preceded us.
(Qohelet 1:9-10)

Behold, Qohelet, this is a true NEWNESS! A man, Jesus of Nazareth, whom death had swallowed up and the tomb had locked up, came forth alive, victorious over death. It was on 9 April in the year 30. Question the times past. Nothing like this had ever happened! And, instead, the unbelievable has happened. And we are witnesses of it! Let us run, then, with hearts bursting in our chests, with tears of joy, after tears of despair, eager to tell everyone: Christ is Risen!

And from now on everything changes. Nothing will be as before! Qohelet, no longer hate life (2:17)! Proclaim no more “happy the dead, now departed, than the living who are still alive” (4:2)! For…

Death and Life have faced each other
in a prodigious duel.
The Lord of Life was dead;
but now, alive, he triumphs…
Yes, we are certain of it:
Christ is truly risen!
(Easter Sequence)

The Mission Race

From that 9 April, the mission race began: “Go and proclaim to my brethren that they should go to Galilee: there they will see me”. And the followers of the ‘way’ (see Acts of the Apostles), tireless – because one never tires when one’s heart is content! – have travelled all the streets and roads of all the ‘Galilees’, of the peripheries of the world, eager to communicate this unheard Good News to all.

It comes to my mind a story told by Fr Antonio La Braca, a Comboni confrere who has been walking the paths and trails of South Sudan for almost forty years. When he arrived in a village where the gospel had not yet arrived, he asked the chief to address the whole community. Having gathered the people, he communicated to them the kerygma: the Dead and Risen Christ. At this point, a young and proud warrior stood up and said to him: “White man, don’t come to tell us children’s stories. When does a dead man ever come back to life?” And, showing him his chest, he added: “See these tattoos? Each mark is an enemy that I killed in combat! Know that none of them returned to disturb me, not even in dreams!” Father La Braca answered him: “And you think that if the resurrection of the dead were a common thing, I would have travelled thousands of kilometres, crossed rivers and faced dangers to come and tell you about it? It is because it is a unique and unprecedented fact that I have come to you. Because, if Christ is risen, it means that His message is true and comes from God. And He tells us that we must love everyone, even our enemies!”

Which Christ do we live and proclaim?

“Why do you seek among the dead the one who is alive?” (Luke 24:5), the angels asked the women at the tomb. The women were looking for Jesus, but… “the old-fashioned way”, that is, his corpse. They wanted to do a good deed towards his body. The entrance of God’s newness, however, leads to a radically “new” way of searching for Jesus, the Risen One!

We could say that the search for Jesus according to the old way, proper to the man before the event of the resurrection, is the continuous and repeated attempt to search for Jesus in a Christian moralism: a search that tastes like old wine, and therefore ‘more tasteful’… The Crucified One helps us to move forward: we lean on him to do something good before God… We remain in the old closed world, in which nothing changes, in which the Crucified and Risen Lord simply represents something more, a greater stimulus for our efforts.

“Christ is risen, but now what am I to do?” This “but” is a sign that we have not yet accepted the risen Christ. The resurrection experience never leaves us as before. It makes us live as resurrected, not by a voluntaristic effort, but by the joy of a surprise that radically changes our view of existence and gives rise to a new way of life. It is the logic of the one who finds the treasure. The Resurrection is a ferment of newness. This is why the Apostle Paul invites us to celebrate Easter “not with old leaven” (1 Corinthians 5:6-8).

Is ours the old quest for Jesus or the new one? The one for the Crucified or the one for the Risen One? Let us ask ourselves if we really believe that Jesus is risen, if we really believe that there is something “new” in our lives!
(Reflections inspired by Card. Martini, The Ignatian Exercises in the Light of the Gospel of Matthew)

Put the Light of the Risen One on a stand of the house!

“One does not light a lamp to put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house” (Matthew 5:15). The struggle between life and death, between light and darkness continues in us, in the Christian community, in the Church, in society and in the world. It is the Christian’s task to place the Light on the candelabrum of the house of his heart and the place where he lives and works. The temptation will always be to put it under the bushel of our old worldly parameters, extinguishing the newness.

“Today is Easter, even if we are not Easter souls: the sepulchre opens wide all the same, and the hallelujah of life exults even in the air and in the fields; but who on the roads of man, this morning, knows how to walk beside him and, along the way, lift up his heart?” (Don Primo Mazzolari).

A holy and happy Easter!

Fr. Manuel João, comboni missionary
Castel d’Azzano (Verona) 7th April 2023