“Awake, for lo! the morning Light has broken. Arise, for [God’s] Cause is made manifest. The portal of His grace is open wide. . .”(Nabíl-i-A‘ẓam, The Dawn-Breakers, 65)
by William P. Collins
Jesus’s disciples were despondent after the crucifixion. The persecutors of Christ wanted His followers to believe that killing Him bodily would destroy His message, His movement, and His reality. Mary Magdalene was the first to persuade the disciples that Jesus was alive. Matthew records that “when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted” (Matthew 28:15). She awakened in His followers the faith that His reality could not be killed by executing Him. It was Mary Magdalene whose love strengthened the disciples when their faith was failing. What she did for the world cannot be measured.
Jesus said: “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” (John 3:14-15). Jesus’s divine spiritual reality was always in heaven, always present, always alive. That spiritual reality was not under the control of birth, daily living, or death. The resurrection of the body of Christ is His divine teachings, which constitute His spiritual body, perpetual and living forever.
There are a lot of dead people walking around on two legs: physically alive but spiritually dead; physically awake but spiritually asleep. Which is the more important for eternity – our physical body or our spiritual reality? Does resurrection mean physical bodies being reassembled and rising from graves or eternal life being awakened in souls? Jesus said “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead” (Matt. 8:22), that is, let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead. He challenges us with questions: “Having eyes, see ye not? And having ears, hear ye not?” (Mark 8:18). As Bahá’í scripture says: “Truly they are even as dead, and not living. Leave them unto the dead, then turn thy face towards Him Who is the Life-Giver of the world.” (Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, 2.21)
Bahá’í scripture commands: “Speed out of your sepulchers. How long will ye sleep?” (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, 18.5). Resurrection means being spiritually alive, fully awake, in communion with God, and living by His teachings. Neither faith alone, nor works alone, keeps us spiritually alive. They go hand in hand, for faith without works is lifeless.
The Qur’án records that when detractors of the Prophet Muḥammad interrogated Him about resurrection, they asked: “When will it be?” The Prophet replied, “Perchance it is nigh! It will be on a Day when He will call you, and ye will answer with His praise.” (Qur’án 17:51-52). In other words, the resurrection is not once only, or in the far past, or sometime in the indeterminate future. The resurrection is perpetually nigh, near, now, if we have spiritual ears to hear and spiritual eyes to see. If we awaken and hearken to the “mighty Trumpet, whose blast is to signalize the resurrection of all mankind” (Bahá’u’lláh, Days of Remembrance, 14.10), then we enter life eternal.
Whenever and wherever God reveals Himself anew, He offers us new life. Faith communities are resurrected when tested and tried by some new dispensation of divine grace. Awaken, then, to the new, the unexpected Message, the voice of God speaking. As the Bahá’í scripture says: “This is the Day whereon the sore athirst have attained the stream of everlasting life and the yearning souls have beheld the Vision of the All-Merciful. This is the Day whereon the lowly have been exalted, the poor enriched, the sick made whole, the deaf given to hear His melody, and the blind made to see. . . .” (Bahá’u’lláh, Days of Remembrance, 16.11). “The Call of God hath been raised, and the light of His countenance hath been lifted up upon” us. “It behoveth every[one] to blot out the trace of every idle word from the tablet of [the] heart, and to gaze, with an open and unbiased mind, on the signs of His Revelation, the proofs of His Mission, and the tokens of His glory.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, 7.1). Rise from the comforting darkness of your tomb, watch as the stone rolls away, come forth, and gaze upon the breaking of the Dawn.
Let us pray:
O Thou kind Lord! These are Thy servants who have . . . turned unto Thy kingdom, and are in need of Thy bestowal and blessing. O Thou God! Manifest and make evident the signs of Thy oneness which have been deposited in all the realities of life. Reveal and unfold the virtues which Thou hast made latent and concealed in these human realities.
O God! We are as plants, and Thy bounty is as the rain; refresh and cause these plants to grow through Thy bestowal. We are Thy servants; free us from the fetters of material existence. We are ignorant; make us wise. We are dead; make us alive. We are material; endow us with spirit. We are deprived; make us the intimates of Thy mysteries. We are needy; enrich and bless us from Thy boundless treasury. O God! Resuscitate us; give us sight; give us hearing; familiarize us with the mysteries of life, so that the secrets of Thy kingdom may become revealed to us in this world of existence and we may confess Thy oneness. Every bestowal emanates from Thee; every benediction is Thine. Thou art mighty. Thou art powerful. Thou art the Giver, and Thou art the Ever-Bounteous. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá)
“Awake, for lo! the morning Light has broken. Arise, for [God’s] Cause is made manifest. The portal of His grace is open wide. . .”