I recall one morning a few years ago when I was with my spiritual director, conferring with one another on many things. At one point I told him that I wanted to understand what the doctrine of the Resurrection means, not in theological or philosophical terms, but in terms of the ordinary language we use on a daily basis.
For the non-believers who are not familiar with the Resurrection, the Resurrection is the central concept of the Christian faith, a concept that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead after His suffering and death on the Cross. It is the most important concept of the faith because it implies that God has redeemed us from our meaningless sufferings.
Since it’s such a rich theological concept, it’s difficult for us to understand it in terms of common language, i.e. the way a kid would describe the love of his parents.
Tonight, I have witnessed an event that captures the meaning of the Resurrection in such a manner:
The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors to win their first ever NBA championship. The way the Cavaliers pulled it off is just unbelievable. They lost the first two games, one won, lost won, and won the last three. Historically, no team in NBA Finals history has won the title after being down 3-1 in the series, on the road.
On top of that, Cleveland’s championship win marks the first title Cleveland sports has given to the city since 1964. The painful odyssey of Cleveland’s people to a championship reminds me a lot of the story of the Israelites, God’s biblically chosen people, waiting for the Messiah to lead them back to paradise of Genesis. Similarly, the people of Cleveland long waited for that championship. Indeed, there were pains, heartaches, disappointments, and discouragements involved. “The Shot”, “The Fumble”, “The Drive”, “The Mesa”, “The Decision”.
You name it.
And yet, all those painful moments waved their goodbye as the headed into the abyss of the past tonight. The tears of pain for so many years became tears of joy.
Tears of salvation.
I am very sure that all of the people in the city of the Cleveland will say that all those years of failures can never overcome this glorious moment of the year for them.
It’s like a mother who has cradled her new born child after the pain she endured in the last few hours of labor. That moment of life can never be overcome by every second of the pain experienced in labor.
And such is the meaning of the Resurrection.
The Resurrection is that mysterious joy on Easter Sunday that is preceded by the familiar and, sometimes overwhelming sorrow of Good Friday. That joy is not to be analyzed logically, but only embraced foolishly.
The Resurrection is divine and human at the same time: it’s divine because human reason can never justify it (it’s beyond the realm of humanity) and God granted it. It is human because it is the best that we, humans, can ever naturally long for. They say that to err is to be human, but I say that to be human is to long for the Resurrection.
13 years ago, the city of Cleveland had its moment of Advent: they witnessed the emergence of a star they hoped would deliver them from title drought. 13 years after then, the city had its moment of Easter: they experienced the joy of redemption.
Congratulations, city of Cleveland.
See you next year in the Playoffs, coming from a Celtics fan.