By Archbishop Colin Johnson
Easter changes everything.
Evil is insidious, but it is not victorious; death is real, but it is not the last word. We cannot ignore the needs of our neighbours; our life is tied up with theirs. We cannot push God out of our lives: God is life!
Jesus, who was crucified, dead and buried, has been raised. Christ is alive.
Jesus’ death and resurrection fundamentally change the terms of the encounter between God and the whole of God’s creation. The Paschal mystery (the name given to the whole sequence of the death, resurrection, ascension of Jesus and the pentecostal sending of the Spirit) marks the decisive declaration and begins the fulfilment of God’s unrelenting love for his creation. Nothing can or shall separate us from his life-giving love. And that love is available—no, not available—but searches out everyone. In the end, that is the only thing that does not change!
But we can change. Throughout his ministry, Jesus invited people to change, to come to a renewed experience of God’s loving purposes for them and the world, to turn back toward God in their practices and their attitudes to God, to their neighbours and to themselves. It is not just a spiritually pious response that is required. Jesus is about life. Jesus invited people then, and invites people today, to embrace life in all its fullness, and then to live so that all are able to share in that abundance of life. He invites us to shun the patterns that diminish, deny or destroy life in ourselves and our world. For everyone, that is quite a change to embrace! Heart, soul, mind and strength—not much left out of that invitation!
The implication is that Christ offers us life for today, not some distant eternity. St. Paul says this in I Corinthians 15:51-57:
“Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.
‘Where, O death, is your victory?
‘Where, O death, is your sting?’
“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I wish you a very blessed and happy Easter.
The Most Reverend Colin R. Johnson
Archbishop of Toronto