Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

By: Father Jim Donohue CR, posted: 2014-04-17

When I was a seminarian way back in 1974, I attended my first Easter Vigil.  Our homilist was our rector at the time, Fr. Bob Liddy, who ended his homily by playing a recording of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah.  (By the way, most of us were relieved that Fr. Bob played a recording rather than trying to sing it himself!)  I am sure that you know the tune and how often the word “Alleluia” appears.   I am actually playing it right now as I compose this reflection!  I would encourage you to listen to this piece because it captures, in some small way, the incredible exultation of God’s action of faithfulness in raising his Son, Jesus, from death itself. 

Just last week on Passion Sunday, we heard the cry of Jesus from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46).  All seems lost in this haunting question.  Jesus has trusted in God to be with him as he sought to follow God’s will of showing compassion toward all and including all people.  As Jesus ministered this way in word and deed, he proclaimed that we are all God’s children, deserving of love.  The religious authorities, however, saw him as a deceiver of the people who must be put to death.  In the eyes of the world, the mission and ministry of Jesus seems like a failure as he hangs upon a cross.  Even Jesus’ last words express the seeming absence of God in the midst of his prayerful plea. 

However, the action of raising Jesus from the dead is the confirmation of God’s faithfulness toward his Son and servant, Jesus.  The resurrection of Jesus stands as the sign that Jesus is righteous in the sight of God.   Jesus trusted in God, even unto death.  The resurrection of Jesus is God’s response of faithfulness in turn. 

The resurrection of Jesus is the confirmation and the strengthening of our own hope.  Our sacrifices and service to others is done in commitment to following God’s will.  When we live this way—in the cost that our sacrifices and service to others brings to us—we are trusting that God will transform our suffering and small deaths into new life.  God’s action of raising Jesus from the dead increases our own hope that this is, indeed, the pathway to a fulfilled life in this world and eternal life in the next.