Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday

1 Corinthians 5:7-8 / Mark 16:1-7

When the myrrh-bearing women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, came very early in the morning, the first day of the week, to anoint the body of Jesus, whom did they hope to see? Not Jesus, surely, since they knew he had died. Yet, when they saw the stone rolled away, the stone which was very great and which they worried would prevent their act of mercy — Who shall roll back the stone from the door of the sepulcher?— did they begin even then to hope? Did they imagine, in a dim and confused way, not yet graced with the gifts of the Holy Spirit to recall, understand, and believe what Jesus had told them, that perhaps, in a hope beyond all hope, that Jesus, and not merely his corpse, would be there to greet them? And when they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed with a white robe, were they, along with being astonished, also disappointed? This young man, clearly sent by God, clearly mighty enough to roll back the stone, was not their beloved Jesus, not the man they had followed and whose work they had supported all of this time. At this peak moment, when they were invited to share the fulness of faith in Jesus Christ and the saving work of his Resurrection, they saw not Christ, but an angel, a messenger.

On this Easter day, our encounter with the risen Lord is just as likely to be open to disappointment. We have traveled long on this spiritual path, through the season of Lent, through the drama of the sacred Triduum, and now we have come to see the Lord Jesus Christ, to embrace him who has broken the power of death and given us hope for life immortal. Yet, when we go outdoors today, or even when we look across the table at our brunch, whom will we see?

Jesus never meant us to witness the Resurrection itself. He never meant us to see that dazzling and unspeakable miracle by which earthly life was transformed and drawn up irrevocably into the fulness of the life of God. What he did mean for us was to witness to the Resurrection, and to receive the witness of others. It is not in finding the body, dead or alive, in the Tomb which is our goal, but rather the restoration of the bond of love with those who have followed Christ that is at the heart of Easter joy. Christ is risen, and in his rising, has given us all, each and every one of us, a new life quickened by nothing other than sincerity and truth, at he wishes us to have joy in him precisely by sharing that joy with everyone we meet. To meet a joyful Christian alive in the promise of Easter is precisely what it means, here and now, to encounter to power of the risen Lord.

Be not affrighted; ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, Who was crucified: He is risen, He is not here; behold the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples, and Peter, that He goeth before you into Galilee: there you shall see Him, as He told you.

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