The Holy Joy of Christ's Resurrection
by: Fr. Romie-Jun Peñalosa
At the onset of Holy Week, we brought in our palm branches & waved it around in anticipation of Christ’s victory over sin and death but at the same time we prepared our hearts to journey with Christ to Calvary where He would lay down His life in death at the cross on that Good Friday.
In some churches, the priest concludes the prayer of blessings at the end of the service every day of Holy Week with this prayer – “Show us the Holy Joy of Your resurrection” after which the faithful depart filled with a firm hope in obtaining mercy while looking up at the crucified Christ who suffered crucifixion purposefully for the sake of obtaining this mercy for humanity.
To the faithful soul who loves Christ in spirit and truth, the Holy Week and the Paschal rituals are not just mere commemorations that prepare us to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection but rather they are real, live endurance and genuine participation in the Lord’s bitterness, sadness, agony, and death on the cross.
However, the question that forcefully confronts us is: Who can bear what Christ has borne for us all?
“He, who has without sin was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6) “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21), and He who has granted life to many, has been sentenced to death. That in essence is the source and cause of Christ’s agony; who among us in His right mind can bear it? Who of us, are more loving and daring than the apostles who turned their backs on Him to flee for their lives?
Why did Christ’s intimate followers abandoned Him at the cross?
It was because of their confinement in the pain of the cross without a prospective outlook towards the resurrection that the disciples failed the test of loyalty to the cross; and so they fled deserting their master. This is the destiny of the human soul that is always after the comfort of an easy life. We find it difficult to accept the pain and sufferings of our Lord even if it were for our sake.
Knowing the frailty of our human nature underneath the power of despondency, the church looks at us and raises her voice in full hope, praying “show us the joy of Your [God’s] resurrection.” This spirit-filled hope that the church conveys in this prayer widens the believer’s scope of expectancy and raises their spirit that will not be comforted nor its wounds be healed except through the joy of the
good news of Christ’s resurrection.
What is this Holy Joy of Resurrection that the Church claims?
It is the same joy that the psalmist David claimed in Psalm 51:12—“Restore to me the joy of your salvation” This is also the same joy that the Blessed Virgin Mary expressed in her words to her cousin Elizabeth—“…and my spirit has rejoiced in the God my Saviour” (Luke 1:47) This same Holy Joy of the resurrection has its roots in the good tidings that the shepherds had received from the archangel at the birth of our Lord—“I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people (Luke 2:10) This deep everlasting joy is exactly the joy of which Christ had consoled His disciples with before His crucifixion, in order that they might not be overcome by despair once they Him hang on the cross. (John 16:22)
Does this prayer request to obtain the Holy Joy of the resurrection end with the end of Holy week and the dawn of Resurrection day?
Not at all. As a matter of fact, it starts on Resurrection day and continues throughout the year then extends to cover the entire life renewing it at every Holy Week, every Resurrection day, and every Sunday. The Holy Joy of the Resurrection can neither be limited nor contained by human emotions. It rather transforms God’s children not only to experience Joy but to become Joy itself; rendering them a pleasant sight to whoever comes & encounters them—a sweet aroma that smells of the power of victory over sin and death.
No wonder that in the early days of the church, it was enough for a non-Christian to just come across a Christian and joy, peace, and serenity that surpasses understanding get imparted to them without any ministry of words and teachings.
In the end, the Holy Joy of the resurrection is triumph and victory lived and sensed as a result of forgiveness of sin, not out of worthiness or spiritual success but rather out of conviction that our sins have been removed and righteousness before God without condemnation have been secured.
Before embarking upon His man-kind saving mission, our Lord Christ warned His disciples and through them all of us who believe in Him: “In the world you shall experience tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He makes everyone who truly believes in Him a participant in this victory. And this victory is the victory of His resurrection, the victory of life over death, of good over evil, of light over darkness.
Let each faithful soul see Him, the Lord of Life and the conqueror of death, through the eyes of faith, and let it rejoice with the triumphant and Holy Joy of His resurrection.
Christ is risen!!