Rising Up…

This

Ever since I came back home from the hospital, I’ve been noticing of the top of the persimmon tree peering through the living room window. About 5-6 weeks ago, it was practically dead. The branches looked like sharp and pointy sticks—like thorns. It was a powerful reminder of the crown of thorns that was forced onto the head of Jesus… that’s what they looked like. The image helped me to enter into a prayerful state during the last days of Lent and Holy Week. Eventually, I could see signs of life appear on those branches,  small green buds. Now, the tree is all green and vibrant (spring is finally here).

The same dead tree is now alive, a sign of Easter—the Resurrection of Christ: the reason for my hope, for my supernatural outlook.

On Easter Sunday, I woke up feeling a sense of peace and joy. I had especially been looking forward to Easter after such a physically and psychologically difficult draining time. The Easter season is my favorite time of year—I think that the song, most famously sung by Andy Williams, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year,” should have been about Easter. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead gives me the concrete hope that I too can live forever and ultimately rise bodily after the Good Friday of life. One day—the eternal day—I will not merely walk, I will fly.

Easter ( Pentecost) is the culmination of everything Jesus was born to do—to bring sinners like me into union with God. He destroyed sin and death, robbing them of power. Jesus Christ is the Sign of Jonah: he entered the belly of the beast and killed it from the inside out, death swallowed up Life and spit it out. I think it’s really fitting that Easter fell on April Fools’ Day this year because the Crucifixion of Jesus and his Resurrection, the Paschal Mystery, fooled the devil and brought about his complete defeat. Easter marks the greatest joke God pulled on his enemies and ours.

There are so many proofs for the Resurrection of Christ, the one that my mind immediately goes to is that the Apostles and early Christians of Rome, “the belly of the beast,” readily went to their deaths for this.  They knew Jesus lives, that he was Divine, that he had the power to raise them up because he overcame death. And within around 200 years, the once-pagan Rome came to embrace Christianity.

While I  felt so joyful during the first two weeks Easter, knowing that one day all the pain and difficulties will fade away and give way to everlasting happiness, it was harder to experience it as all this stuff was thrown at me, especially a threat of losing home nursing care… fighting to keep it, etc. Life is full of so many problems, setbacks, separations, pain—just suffering. Doesn’t make sense!  At the beginning of my recovery from pneumonia, I used to wonder why God just didn’t end it for me in the hospital, it would’ve been so much easier (it doesn’t work like that, the struggle makes stronger like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis! And then it hits me, “I could have died—”

“But I’m alive!”

So many people have been telling me how good it is to see me, that I look and sound much better than I was. All I can do is be grateful and trust (how can i not!?) that God is working through it all…  All I can do is do everything I can, with his help, to do good, to love as he did… AIl I can do is hold on the hope of The Resurrection, to be the sheep of the Good Shepherd who himself became a sheep and walked through the valley of the shadow of death before us, trampling it down, making a way for us to pass through. With him at our side, the whole time, Christ leads me) into the green pastures beside the restful waters—and my cup will (does, even now) overflow.

United to the branch, from the seed that fell to the ground and died, Jesus who lives forever, we will share in his Resurrection in full. May we bear an abundant harvest in the meantime, believing that all things work for good for those who love him.

One thought on “Rising Up…

  1. Nick G.

    “Death swallowed up Life and spit it out.” In our winters, it always seems like death has won. And then…
    Like the persimmon tree, we are reborn! Easter is indeed the most wonderful time of the year. Thanks for the timely reminder that even when we may feel ready to go to God, as long as He gives us breath we must “do good, to love as he did… [and] hold on the hope of The Resurrection, to be the sheep” that He created us to be. Great reflection Harold!

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