Redeeming our Individuality: An Easter Meditation

Mary said, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him,“Rabboni!” -John 20:13-16

There are a variety of ways of looking at the Resurrection. In a way, it is something that occurs daily in nature. Something dies giving life to something else. Life is always resurrected from death. The idea of resurrection is not foreign to us in some senses. However, it is strange and foreign that Jesus came back as Jesus. Not Jesus in a ghostly sense, but Jesus bearing the marks of His pain and suffering on His body. He remains the individual that died on the Cross but now, He is Alive.

Out of dust, we became an individual and we lose our individuality when we return to dust. This is the tragic state of humanity. We are aware of our individuality and we are also aware that it is fragile. We strive hard to be individuals. We want to be unique. We want to be special even if it is for one person. We want our individuality to be affirmed, but we also know that even if the whole world recognizes our individuality, it is pointless; we will eventually return to dust. This desperation and futility of life was expressed aptly in the Book of Ecclesiastes:

For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust. (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20)

Our struggle to assert our individuality makes us aware of the injustice and immorality of this world. We define anything that tries to destroy our individuality as evil. Well, the question of evil is closely related to our individuality. Buddha taught that our individuality was the problem. It was believed that we perceive evil  because we persist on our false idea of our individuality and the solution was to break free from our notions of self-identity. Still, this did not solve the problem. Our sense of individuality is still strong and despite the sufferings, we think that there is more joy in being an individual than giving it up altogether.

Jesus affirmed our sense of individuality. His disciples were fishermen and tax collectors, people who usually classed as a group and not as individuals. We don’t expect any prominence from these classes. He called individuals from these groups and made their names known throughout the world. Jesus affirmed the individuality of his female disciples in a time where their individuality was suppressed. Jesus, in one occasion, called an ailing woman to identity herself when she wanted to lost among the crowd. Jesus made people feel that their identity was relevant. They were important as individuals. His life was the hope that they could finally be someone and His tragic death robbed them of this hope. Only the resurrection could give them back this hope in a new and wonderful way.

Jesus bore the marks of His torture and pain. His torture and pain were once tools used to threaten his individual existence, but now they set Him apart from the rest. The resurrection changed the meaning of his suffering and death. It showed us that nothing can steal our individuality in this world. Our Individuality is not an invention of cultural conditioning or rational thinking, but it originates in the mind of the One who has the power to resurrect us. It always brings a new understanding of our lives here. Jesus bore the marks of hatred and death on His body, but His love overcame them and changed their meaning for eternity.

We know through Jesus that all will be resurrected (I am aware of the various debates on this subject). However, this has to change how we live our lives now. What we do with our body will be reflected in our resurrected body. Our bodies can be instruments of Love or Hatred and the marks of our choices are worn eternally on our resurrected body. Jesus reveals to us the most excellent way to shape our bodies and soul for eternity. He shows the most excellent way to cultivate our individuality.

Have a Blessed Easter. Christ is Risen!