Christians celebrate at Easter what it means: the passage. In our context, it is the passage from disappointment to the bursting forth of the unexpected. Here the disappointment is the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth and the unexpected, his resurrection.
He was someone who went through the world doing good. More than doctrines, he introduced practices always linked to the life of the weakest: he healed the blind, purified lepers, made the lame walk, restored health to many of the sick, satisfied the hunger of multitudes, and even resurrected the dead. We know his tragic end: a plot hatched between religious and political leaders led him to his death on the cross.
Those who followed him, apostles and disciples, were deeply frustrated by the tragic end of the crucifixion. Everyone, except the women who also followed him, began to return to their homes. They were disappointed, because they expected him to bring deliverance to Israel. Such frustration appears clearly in the two disciples at Emmaus, probably a couple who were walking along full of sadness. To someone who joined them on the way, they complain: “We were hoping that it was he who would free Israel, but three days have passed since he was condemned to death” (Luke 24:21).This companion was later revealed to be the resurrected Jesus, recognized in the way he blessed the bread, broke it and distributed it.
The resurrection was outside the horizon of his followers. There was a group in Israel that believed in the resurrection but at the end of time, the resurrection understood as a return to life as it always was is.
But with Jesus the unexpected happened, for in history the unexpected and the improbable can always occur. Only the improbable and unexpected here is of another nature, a really improbable and unexpected event: the resurrection. It must be well understood: it is not the reanimation of a corpse like Lazarus’. Resurrection represents a revolution within evolution. The good end of human history is anticipated. It signifies the unexpected irruption of the new human being, as St. Paul says, the “novissimo Adam”.
This event is really the realization of the unexpected. Teilhard de Chardin whose mystique is all centered on the resurrection as an absolute novelty within the process of evolution called it a “tremendous”, something, therefore, that stirs the whole universe.
This is the fundamental faith of Christians. Without the Resurrection the Christian communities would not exist. They would lose their founding and founding event.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the two greatest mysteries of the Christian faith are intimately linked to women: the incarnation of the Son of God with Mary (Luke 1:35) and the resurrection with Mary of Magadala (John 20:15). Part of the Church, the hierarchical one, hostage to cultural patriarchalism, has not attributed any theological relevance to this singular fact. It is surely in God’s design and should be welcomed as something culturally innovative.
In these dark times, marked by death and even with the eventual disappearance of the human species by a nuclear cataclysm, faith in the resurrection rips us a future of hope. Our end is not self-destruction within a final tragedy but the full realization of our potentialities through resurrection: the irruption of the new man and woman.
Happy Easter to all those who can believe and also to those who cannot.
Leonardo Boff is a theologian and wrote: The resurrection of Christ and ours in death, Vozes 2012.