Some of my African ancestors believe that all of life comes from a hole in the ground. At death we are interred, sealed in that hole in the ground, where we can commune with our ancestors for eternity. As a convert to Christianity, it is somewhat reassuring to read in the first pages of the Christian scripture the in the beginning God dug a hole in the ground to form Adam and Eve, male and female; and God quickly reminds them that from that hole in the ground they came and to it they shall return.
A hole in the ground may be a source of life, but a hole is not a good place to be. What does it mean to be in a hole in the ground? The word of God tells stories of people who have experienced being in a hole in the ground. The prophet Daniel knew the experience as being in a place of danger (Daniel 6); Joseph with his coat of many colours knew it as a prelude to slavery in Egypt (Genesis 37); for Jeremiah, to be in a hole in the ground was to be in a place of despair and oblivion. And as for Jesus, a hole in the ground is a place of death. Whether as a pit, a well or a cistern, a hole in the ground is a place of bondage, darkness, death, forgetfulness and oblivion.
Perhaps we too know what it feels like to be in a hole. Maybe we have been there, or we still find ourselves there. Think of the pandemic. Think of people who are forced to live in bomb shelters in a senseless war. Reverses of fortune can drive us into a hole; sickness can lock us up in a hole; broken relationships and the accompanying emotions of loss, rejection, separation and resentment can hold us captive in a hole; addiction and compulsion can keep us bound in a hole. The same is true of our earth: to blow holes in the ozone layer or drill holes in arctic wildlife refuge spells disaster. However we look at it, a hole in the ground is a place where there can be no light, no life, no freedom.
But today we celebrate the resurrection. We celebrate the story of our God who understands the hole we are in; who knows the way to our hole and comes to draw us out. Our story continues the action of our God who drew Joseph, Daniel and Jeremiah out of their hole; our God who today draws Jesus out of his hole. As God did it for them, so God does it for us today. There is no power strong enough to keep us in the hole. No power could keep Jesus in the hole and no power will keep us sealed in darkness, death and bondage.
Peter declares in Acts 2:24 that the power of Hades, of the Abyss, could not hold Jesus locked in its grips. In Christ, life triumphs over death, light over darkness and freedom over bondage. Hold on, God is coming for you – to raise you out of that hole in the ground. We are God’s Easter people, the risen Body of Christ. We no longer dwell in a hole in the ground. We are free, we are alight and alive. Alleluia!!!
Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator SJ