FAITH IN THE RESURRECTION, OUR SUPERPOWER
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. – Col 3:3
There’s story of a priest who asked a group of grade school kids, “Who likes Superman or Supergirl?” Most kids raised both of their hands. Then the priest asked, “Who wants superpower like Superman or Supergirl?” Again, most hands came up. Then he asks, who wants the power of the Resurrection? Complete silence. Then one kid stood up and asked: “What the heck is the power of the Resurrection?”
That’s a great question! What is the power of the resurrection? What difference does faith in Jesus rising from the dead make? Death still waits for every one of us. Our schools remain unsafe. God seems absent when bad things happen to good people. Why doesn’t God rescue his loved ones and save them from pain and death?
Many of us, like myself, stumble with these questions because we misunderstand God who is revealed in the resurrection. We think that God is like a superhero rescuing us from bad things. However, the story of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection is not about a God who ordinarily rescues, but is rather shows a God who redeems. As Ronald Rolheiser puts it: God doesn’t always “save us from humiliation, pain, and death; rather he redeems humiliation, pain, and death after the fact.” In his lowest hour, humiliated, suffering, and dying on the cross, the crowd mocked Jesus and said: “If God is your father, let him rescue you!” But there’s no rescue. Instead, Jesus dies a most horrible death. God raises Jesus up only after his death.
My mind and heart hearken to the story of a brother Jesuit who believed in the power of the resurrection. Fr. TJ Martinez was 38 years old when he came to Houston, with a law degree and a Harvard degree in education. He had a big mission (yet it wasn’t even his dream) which was to build a Cristo Rey High School helping kids in the barrios become engineers, doctors, bankers, teachers, artists, etc. For six years, he was able to fundraise, built the school, and helped many kids and families with a future they never before imagined. Then suddenly he was diagnosed with cancer and was given six months to live. Thousands of people joined the Cristo Rey community to pray for a miraculous cure so that he can continue to help more kids. Yet, he was not rescued. He died soon after. But the way he died witnessed a strong faith in the resurrection. This is what he wrote to the entire community before dying:
“The last six years of my life at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School have been my best assignment ever, but the next one will be even better, namely my soul in heaven with eternal life, watching and praying over each of you … The story does end well, as I told you it would. Wherever my story ends, it’s part of God’s bigger picture. Even the suffering we endure together – mine and yours – finds purpose in bringing us closer. My story, your story, our story is going to end well!”
Fr. TJ has a superpower: faith in the Resurrection. His superpower is also ours: trusting in God who redeems more than rescues. We are gifted with a fifty-day season of Easter to let our life story become part of the larger story of Jesus. Even if our story is not going well right now, we can trust that it will end well!
Do you and I want to receive the power of the Resurrection? Will we ask for the grace to simply receive?
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