Have you ever noticed how year after year, Easter seems to sneak up on us? We come to Mass on Palm Sunday and suddenly it comes home to us, next Sunday is Easter!!!
It certainly is not that way with Christmas. Before the last leaves are off the trees we are invited to begin the count down. Only 40 more shopping days before Christmas!! Merchants are heard to prophesy as to whether this year is going to be a good or a bad Christmas. Publishers and manufacturers flood the stores with the latest novels, cookbooks, games and clothes, and by the time Christmas Eve arrives, no one, no one has an excuse to be caught by surprise.
Commercial interests find it easy to take advantage of the birth of a child but when it comes to His resurrection from the dead, they are almost stymied. Almost, I say, because, to be fair, there is some limited activity around the theme of resurrection, indirect though the relationship may be. The new life symbol of eggs, the proverbial fertility of rabbits and the faintly baptismal nature of the new clothes...crowned by the Easter bonnet.
As with the world of trade and commerce - so too with us! How much more substantial and tangible is a child in a crib than is a piece of linen in an otherwise empty tomb. How much easier to believe in the birth of a child than in the resurrection of a man. Yet...are they not both miracles?
It is estimated that since the dawn of time some 50 billion babies have been born into this world and of those about 4 billion are currently alive leaving 46 billion in their graves. But there is only one empty grave. Only one grave from which one of the 46 billion has risen. Only one discarded shroud.
Which is the greater miracle? The 50 billion babies born or the one resurrection from the dead? I am not sure. Perhaps it is just that life has become so commonplace that we take it for granted, and resurrection remains so unique as to be almost beyond consideration. Perhaps that is why it is so much easier to explain to an unbeliever what we celebrate on Christmas! How much greater the challenge, even to ourselves to say, "I believe in the risen Christ than to say I love the newborn child."
The two natures of the Christ Child, His humanity and His divinity are easy to gloss over and to minimize...but the two natures of the risen Christ, His humanity and divinity, demand centre stage. So it is that society says and hears a lot about Christmas but not all that much about Easter.
But society needs, desperately needs, to hear more about Easter. However, with odds of fifty billion to one, people are bound to be sceptical and so it is that, like the apostles, we have our work cut out for us. We must begin with Christmas, cutting through the tinsel and making sure that everyone knows that the Child before whom we kneel is God incarnate, and that the Jesus who walked the streets of the Middle East was God incarnate and that He who is the author of life did not need to beat the odds but rose from the dead for no reason other than that was His intention. He desired that the word "Life" take on a whole new dimension, a dimension wherein "death" is no longer the last word.
They will ask for proof, the testimony of the gospels alone is not enough. The ultimate proof of the resurrection is the change that the risen Jesus now brings about in us. Those who knowingly choose not to live in Christ are truly dead and can be seen to be so. Those who are open to the risen Lord will see Him and will be transformed by Him and will thus give convincing witness to Him.
Indeed this day was made by the Lord, we rejoice and are glad. ALLELUIA!!