FR MICHAEL BIBLICAL IMAGERY
(Fr Michael Boakye Yeboah: Vice Rector of St Gregory Seminary, Kumasi-Ghana)
THE RESURRECTION: “OUR DNA”
DNA is scientifically known as “deoxyribonucleic acid”, a kind of self-replicating material which is present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes. It is the carrier of genetic information. The fundamental and distinctive characteristics or qualities of someone or something, especially when regarded as unchangeable.
It is within this context that I would like to stress that the doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus is the “DNA” of all Christians. It is the particular quality of all Christians that can never change and if one does not have it, then the person is not a Christian. One cannot be a Christian and not believe in the Resurrection – is unimaginable.
Growing up in the 1980s, a bishop of one of the traditional churches (not Catholic) shocked the Christian world with the announcement that he did not believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. His Church did not only sack him from his bishopric, but went all the way to send him packing from their fold altogether: he was excommunicated. The reason for their action is simple: you cannot deny the resurrection and still be a Christian, let alone a bishop. The resurrection is at the centre of the Christian faith. As Christians, we are a “Resurrection People”! St Paul made that point quite emphatically long ago to the Christians of Corinth: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished” (1 Cor 15:14-18).
If Jesus had only lived, taught people, performed miracles, suffered and died, without rising from the dead, his would have been another case of a good man who came sadly to a tragic end. And there are numerous examples of such men in history. The philosopher Socrates was one of them. Mahatma Gandhi would be a more recent representative of that illustrious group. The difference in the case of Jesus is that he did not remain dead; he rose from the dead, never again to die. And that is a big difference, big enough to draw the line between who is a Christian and who is not, who is a disciple of Christ and who is not.
It follows that Jesus did not redeem the world only by suffering and dying on the cross. He redeemed the world also by rising from the dead. By dying he destroyed death alright, but it was by rising that he restored life to us, as we say in one of our Consecration Acclamations at Mass. Destroying death was only half the work that Jesus came into the world to do. The completion of that work was the resurrection.
All this goes to explain why Easter, not Christmas, is the premier celebration in the entire Christian Calendar. It explains the long period of preparation for Easter: Lent, and why Easter is not a one day or one-week celebration, but a fifty-day celebration that ends with Pentecost, which, incidentally, is the second most important celebration in the Christian Calendar. It finally explains why belief in the resurrection is altogether crucial to the Christian faith and why it is impossible to deny the resurrection and still be a Christian, not to say a bishop.
Let us continue to be hopeful that our Lord who raised people from the dead and also rose from the dead will raise our world. We should not give up in hope, the Lord will surely come to our assistance.