Easter—The Resurrection of the Lord
April 24, 2011
When we stand and proclaim what we believe as Christians, one of the first things we say about God is that He is “creator”: as in, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth”.
We hear of God as a Creator in the first words of Sacred Scripture. The first reading at the Easter Vigil tells us how God creates: “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland….” In other words, God is able to take nothing, and make something out of it.
This is not the heart of our Christian faith, but it is the beginning: God is able to take nothing, and make something out of it.
You and I cannot do that. Human beings cannot create something out of nothing. We can create. One of the most powerful ways that we grow in our Christian Faith is through human works of creation: human art. Christian art can be very simple: when we pray the Stations of the Cross, for example, and hold that little booklet in our hands, the picture on the left-hand side of the page helps us to see, in the simple beauty of its art, what the words on the right-hand side help us to say out loud.
Art is everywhere in our Catholic Faith. Statues, paintings and pictures, all help us to grow in faith. We know, too, that there are masterpieces in museums and churches, in states and countries far from where we live our every-day lives, that stun the imagination. In the whole of our lives, we may only have one chance to see, for example, Michelangelo’s Pieta in St. Peter’s in Rome. But if we do see it, even once, it has a great impact on our life: years later, we will still talk about it to others, and try to express how beautiful, how captivating it is. We may not express this beauty very well, but we are never the same after we see it: and all because Michelangelo chose to create this human work of art.
The difference, of course, between the way that God creates and the way that humans create, is an infinite difference. God creates out of nothing. Humans have to have a “something” in front of them in order to produce a work of art. The sculptor needs a block of marble, as well as a chisel, as well as a lot of free time to work. The painter needs brushes, palettes, paints, a canvas, as well as a lot of time. But God creates out of nothing, in less than a moment, in less than a snap of the fingers.
There’s another difference between God as “THE” Creator, and the ways that we humans approach creation. This difference is in the approaches we take to “broken creation”. What do we do when something breaks? In our modern western culture, especially in the United States, our knee-jerk reaction to something breaking is to throw it away, and buy a new one. Whether it’s a lamp, a printer, a coffee maker, or even for some, a marriage: when something breaks, it no longer has value. There’s no reason to keep it around.
If we do try to fix something, there’s no guarantee that we’ll have much success. Growing up with two sisters and a brother, I can only remember once (apart from making too much noise in the car), that all four of us got in trouble for the same thing. The trouble was because of our mother’s favorite lamp: an Oriental lamp that, one day, got right in the way of someone’s beeline during a game of indoor Tag. I don’t know which was greater: our fear of our mother, or our self-delusion that we could put the 500 pieces of porcelain back together. Maybe because of fear, though, we tried as hard as we could to fit all 500 pieces back into a whole, like Humpty-Dumpty.
Whether it’s a lamp, or a car, or a clock, or a computer, our ability to fix—our ability to “re-create”—something that is broken, is limited. It depends on our knowledge, our flair, and our experience.
But there are something that we simply cannot fix: not through our own human powers. These are the things that become broken because of sin and death. No matter how much we wish—no matter how much we try—we cannot fix, we cannot put back together what has been torn apart by sin and death. We try to persuade ourselves otherwise. But we fail.
By ourselves, we fail. But with God, we can succeed. This is the Good News of Jesus’ Resurrection. We were indeed buried with Jesus through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.
God creates differently than we create. And God re-creates in a different way, too. God can do what we cannot. God can forgive sins, creating grace in the soul of someone who has rejected Him. God can raise up those who have died, as the Son of God proclaims to us today. God can create something out of nothing: He can bring life out of death.
This is not just a promise about the future, based on hope. This is not just admiring what God the Father did for Jesus 2000 years ago, something to believe with faith. Through the Eucharist, the Risen Jesus—His glorified Body and Body, soul and divinity—enter into the person who receives Him. The grace of this Sacrament, if we accept it and allow it to change us—is what gives us the chance to live in newness of life. This grace is what changes not tomorrow—not yesterday—but today. This grace is what allows us to love, in our daily life, those whom we find it difficult to love, whether that is someone we keep at a distance, someone very close to us, or even our own self. This grace is what allows us to love as God has loved us, and to live on in that love even after our death in this world, to enjoy the presence of God and all His saints for eternity. Amen.