When I was small, I always got a kick playing
Jack-in-the-box! Seeing the lid bursting
open and a figure of some sort popping out,
waving his hands enthusiastically enthralled
me! Today I am not small any more. Toys have
given way to reality. And reality has taught
me that we Christians have a … God-in-the-box!
Just when we think we have everything "under
control" and planned perfectly, out
pops God, smiling and waving in ways that
we cannot anticipate. I call this experience
the resurrection bolt from the blue! Jesus
is always ahead of us. He always surprises
His enemies taught they had finally closed
his case. We also in life, many times, may
think that it is all over. Dejected and discouraged
at yet another failure in life, we roll over
a big stone over our tomb. So many live trapped
in a tombstone frame of mind, huddled in
some hidden room in 'Jerusalem' or wedged
under a rock probably of our own making.
'We crucify ourselves between two thieves:
regret for yesterday and fear of tomorrow'.
Thus, missing the only thing we have, the
And yet.... once, in Jerusalem, a startling
event happened that can and should have deep
repercussions in our life. A man conquered
death and He came out victorious. Not only
that, but today He is so much alive that
He can transmit a new life in us. Before
Easter we could be a rolling stone or a stone
roller. We could either let circumstances
dominate us or we could be agents of transformation.
But after Easter there is no choice! Now
we have a strength to overcome everything.
No need anymore to let contrary events tumble
us without any resistance. In Jesus Christ
we can now conquer everything.
'Worry looks around, Sorry looks back, Faith
looks up.' Yes, faith looks up and sees the
Risen Lord, triumphant. We can now witness
to Christ's resurrection by becoming stone
rollers. Resurrecting Jesus is not our job.
But letting Him meeting us, is. And when
He meets us, He will not let us settled.
He will make us part of His team that constantly
goes forth and rolls away the stones that
crush people's lives.
The Fathers of the Church understood this
so clearly and when they speak about Easter,
they are explosive and fiery! Reading their
homilies makes one feel like shouting and
"Let no one grieve over his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed;
let no one weep over his sins, for pardon
has shone from the grave; let no one fear
death, for the death of our Savior has set
us free: He has destroyed it by enduring
it, He has despoiled Hades (the underworld)
by going down into its kingdom, He has angered
it by allowing it to taste of his flesh.
Hades is angered because it is frustrated,
it is enraged because it has been mocked,
it is incensed because it has been destroyed,
it is irritated because it has been reduced
to naught, it is fuming because it is now
captive. It seized a body, and lo! it discovered
God; it seized earth, and, behold! it encountered
heaven; it seized the visible, and was overcome
by the invisible."
Our God-in-the-box is always ahead
When Moses led the people away from
and into the wilderness, the Lord went
of them - as a pillar of fire by night
smoke by day. When the Israelites were
to establish their foothold in the
Canaan, the Ark of the Covenant, God's
in their midst, would always be ahead
them, leading them into battle.
This is the great news. Our Easter secret
is that there is no place we can go, no challenge
life can offer us, where we won't find that
God has already gone ahead. He even went
ahead of us in death! Be ready to see Him
popping out from the box of your depression
or your trials. He is resurrected!
The French painter Henri Matisse died in
1954 at the age of 86. In the last years
of his life, arthritis crippled his hands
badly, making it painful to hold a brush.
Yet he continued to paint, placing a cloth
between his fingers to keep the brush from
slipping. One day someone asked him why he
submitted his body to such pain. Matisse
replied: "Pain passes but beauty remains."
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
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