“Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image.”
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
May the peace of the Risen Christ be with you!
As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, it can be easy for us to get caught up in the news, politics, and cares of the world.
It was no different 2,000 years ago, on an even greater level. Just like 2,000 years ago, there was Jesus and His mission, and there were the politics surrounding it—the chief priests and Pharisees, the occupation of the Roman empire, the persecution of Christians.
After Jesus’ passion and death on the cross, the chief priests wanted to suppress the resurrection. They conspired with the Romans and assigned soldiers to guard the tomb of Jesus.
However, the powers of this world are no match against God.
“Kings on earth rise up and princes plot together against the LORD and against his anointed one… the one enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord derides them…” —Psalm 2
God “laughs” at their attempt to suppress the resurrection!
As we read in the Gospel of Matthew, “an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.” Upon seeing the angel, the soldiers guarding the tomb, “became like dead men.”
Isn’t this dichotomy interesting? The dead is raised and the living became like dead men. Regardless of how determined they were, the powers of this world could not contain Jesus in the tomb.
Today, just like 2,000 years ago, the powers of this world want to keep Christ entombed. Whether it be through war, the power of media, the power to kill, or even the power to dictate rules over you—whether you want them to or not. These are the politics happening today.
Though just as soldiers were facing their worst enemy, the powers of today are also facing their worst enemy. And who is their enemy? They are facing God and they are no match for Him. They fall like dead men, unable to rise.
You see, the politics of today are not much different from the politics back then. They are working tirelessly to erase God, to discredit Him, and form God according to their own image.
They attack the dignity of man and woman, attack the family, and even push for abortions in the name of equality. They want to silence Christian morals and beliefs. They want us to become so numb that they may rule over us, all in the name of freedom.
They seek immorality in the name of entertainment and change history in the name of decency. They’re today’s “wind of error” and “wind of terror.” But winds come and go. Where are the Romans? They came, they conquered, now they’re gone.
Like 2,000 years ago, the powers of today will come and go. But what’s wrong with the sweeping winds of today? Like all sweeping winds they come and go, however, they sweep a lot of people with them—especially our children.
But we have the cross and the resurrection. That’s why St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Just as the angel sat on the rock, proclaiming something so divine. Telling them: look, the passion, cross, and death are from you, but the resurrection is from Jesus. You have no control of the resurrection. It is from God.
And that is the salvation that God gave us and no one can take away. But we need to make Christ the center of the storm. Put Christ in your heart and you will see Jesus alive. While politics are happening outside of the tomb, Jesus is working hard to save us all.
I don’t want to conclude an Easter message focusing on politics and the winds. Instead, I want to share with you an excerpt from a homily, written about 100 years after the resurrection of Jesus. It is a reflection that captures the silence that surrounded Christ’s sacred body in the tomb when He descended to the dead and encountered Adam and Eve, and all those waiting for deliverance. It reads:
“For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth.
See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.
Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you.”
This is what Jesus was doing when politics and earthly powers were working outside of the tomb. It can be easy to get caught up in the storm but we must keep our eyes fixed on God. Jesus has risen! He heals, He strengthens, and He brings us salvation. How beautiful is our Lord?
May the peace of the Risen Christ rest in your hearts throughout this Easter Season, and may you be filled with joy and hope.
† Mar Francis Y. Kalabat
Bishop of the Chaldean Diocese
of St. Thomas the Apostle