Saturday, March 26, 2016
The Gospel scene is quiet and confusing as Mary Magdalene does not understand that Jesus has been raised from the dead. Peter goes into the tomb and notes the placement of the burial cloths, but does not conclude that Jesus is no longer dead. He is perplexed and wonders what happened. The other unnamed disciple, however, enters the tomb after Peter, and he sees and believes.
The Resurrection is not an easy concept to figure out and it takes time for the meaning to set in. Today, we have to experience the resurrection of Jesus personally for us. Jesus has to return expressly for us, just as he did for his mother, his disciples, and those who were faithful to him. He wants to come back to us to console us and to reassure us we can go through life together. His ministry is all about comforting and encouraging us and delighting in his victory over the awful forces of the world. He has won.
Believing in Jesus is a difficult thing to do these days. Tragedies in Paris, Brussels, and Istanbul, and unresolvable like crises the Middle East dilemma make us wonder if God has any power to shape world events. Death, sorrow, and suffering grip us because it makes no sense to lose a loved one. Why does God allow the suffering of the good and the innocent? Too many factors keep us away from developing a faith life in the one who can make sense of the senseless. The Resurrection takes time to understand; it is a process we have to go through just like Peter, the other disciples, and Mary Magdalene did.
We know when it happens. Something inside our soul is suspended, if but briefly, and we linger over a moment that comes from outside of us. Can there be a possibility that Jesus is reaching out to me? Something in our lives gets realigned or knocked out of place, whether I am a believer or doubter. I have a sense that there is something, perhaps someone, greater than that which is in my life. I may be filled with a desire, a yearning, for my world to have greater meaning. I hold onto this moment and return to it. Somehow, something meaningful is being born within me. Something authentic, something real, is growing inside my soul and it fuels me, even if I tell no one else about it at first. We do not even know if it is from God, but it is something I cannot deny. If we are like the beloved disciple, we see and believe, but most of us are like Peter, who is weighed down with life’s decisions, and it takes time to grasp the holy among the profane, the mystery in the midst of ordinary life.
Joy does not burst onto the scene triumphantly, but is subtle. It grows slowly and may scarcely command our attention because it is found in hidden details that soon will make itself known. We seek for joy in the same way we seek God – we heighten our senses and notice the fine details that have something important to say. At some point, we will notice the insignificant event that is infused with joy and we will be caught with surprise. It is like a summer firefly’s flicker. We wonder: did I just see it. Or was I imagining things. It was gone in a flash and yet when we walk deeper into the woods, we find the forest alight with these beaming lights.
Intimacy with God through Jesus is the Easter moment. Joy is the emotion we feel when the risen Jesus comes to us rejoicing that he wants to share the boundless intimacy of his resurrected life with us. Easter is about reflecting on these limitless blessings that God cascades down upon our world like the rays of the sun. When this happens, we want to share ourselves with the ones who are near to us. Intimacy holds nothing back. Jesus, who is all heart, wants to share his victory with us.
As we celebrate this solemn day, let us notice the joy that we have. Let us be bold even to share that deep down joy with one another. Let’s reach out to our brothers and sisters and shake hands in friendship because we have one Lord and we are his brothers and sisters. Let us pray together for the grace to be joyful with Christ who is joyful. Yes, Jesus is joyful because of God’s victory over sin and death and he wants to share his joy with us. This joy is more than a mere happiness of contentment – but a deep sense that all is well and will be well. Life will still be chaotic, but all will be well in the end.
Happy Easter, my friends. Together, let us pray for our lives to be enveloped by Christ’s joy.
He is Risen, my friends. Indeed. He is truly Risen. Alleluia! Alleluia!