Today's Good News can be summed up in four words: ALLELUIA! HE IS RISEN!
He is born to humble circumstances, of good parents who have little of life's material things. He is of Jewish origin, of the royal House of David. His parents take religion seriously, and he grows up familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures : the psalms, the Law, the prophets. We know little of his early family life; but we know that while still young, he already demonstrates the knowledge of a learned rabbi. He seems to live in a different dimension, one of tremendous intimacy with God.
In his youth he works as a carpenter, supporting his family by crafting beautiful woodwork. He participates in synagogue services, visits the Temple in Jerusalem, and earns a reputation for his intelligence and his single-minded trust in God.
He could spend the remainder of his life in these surroundings, but he does not. After three decades of living a quiet life at home, something happens. He experiences a powerful, compelling call from God to do more, to bring the Good News of God's Love to people who sorely need that message. He prepares himself for this task by a lengthy desert fast and a prolonged period of prayer, and then calls together a small group of people to accompany him on his mission. It is obvious from the very beginning that the Spirit of God is within this man, helping him proclaim the reign of God on earth : a reign he himself embodies: one of peace and justice.
With his disciples in tow, he walks the streets and back roads, stopping wherever there are people. With uncanny perception, he explains to them the ways of God. He speaks to them in stories and words they understand. He tells them that Love is more important than rules. In doing so, he turns their world upside-down and inside out! He gives sight to the blind, heals the sick, comforts the troubled, works God's wonders and gives people hope. He is a man of great courage, constantly putting his life in danger by speaking truth to power. He is also a man who enjoys life : partying at weddings, praying under the night sky, sharing meals with friends and foes alike, engaging in conversations that impress upon his listeners the importance of human life and love. But he is also a man of intense suffering: so many disappointments, misunderstandings, losses, betrayals. The evil of the world plagues him. Yet his mission is not to explain the evil; his mission is to announce God's love, to suffer with us and embrace our human condition in its entirety : all the pain, all the suffering, even death itself!
So, one fateful Friday he dies, though not of illness or old age. He dies the painfully torturous suffocating death of crucifixion. His death stuns the disciples. Some run away, utterly disheartened. Those who remain are beside themselves with grief and dashed hopes. Yet his death is not the final page of his life story, for Good Friday gives way to Easter Sunday, and the tomb gives way to resurrection! This man born to humble circumstances, this thoroughly Jewish man, this Anointed One of God, this Jesus risen and fully alive, lives today in our hearts so that we can boldly proclaim the goodness of God in our lives. ALLELUIA! HE IS RISEN!