1st rdg Acts 10 34a;37-43 commissioned us to preach & testify
psalm Ps 118 this is the day which the Lord has made, let us rejoice
2nd rdg Col 3:1-4 seek what is above/life hidden with Christ in God
Gospel Jn 20:1-9 look - see - believe - understand
May God’s measureless love envelope us today as we celebrate Our Lord’s resurrection!
Whereas the saying ‘seeing is believing’ may be an apt adage for other occasions, this morning ‘not seeing is believing’ might be the better phrase. For it was in not seeing Jesus’ body in the tomb that the disciples’ belief grew, with the understanding that his body wasn’t there because He had risen. I am often drawn to reflect that we go looking for Jesus in the wrong places. He is not in the place of the dead – the cemetery – the grave – in lackluster faith or in the pretense of religious practice. Jesus is known in the midst of believers! Jesus’ ministry was marked by attending to folks who were not the stellar church goers, but they got down to believing on a very intimate level and their faith often had to do with the fact that they had wandered from the path of relationship with God or had grown indifferent to God and they were upended by the One who ultimately died a shameful death so that we all would wake up and smell the coffee.
It’s never about clocking hours and hours of reciting prayers. It is about living a relationship of depth with the Lord as did those who first went and found the stone rolled away and those who rushed to discover the cloths neatly laid aside. We in the monastic life are stilled by the passage from Colossians: “If then we were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Most can only think of the costliness of our hidden way or understand it as a penance. But in the living that is a dying to the world or to the ways of the world, there is a privilege – a life – a joy that Easter’s ray illumines to a clarity we can only hope to share and continue to grow in. Are we not all called beyond living for this moment or that gratification? Isn’t there a deeper union with Christ who loved us enough to suffer, die and rise for us by the living for what is above, not so much known spatially as spiritually, relationally. Above, not in the sense of I’m better than or holier than or wiser than you, but rather I’m surer than I’ve ever been that I’d risk popularity or whatever else may be valued in our social order, so as not to lose what Peter and John found when they peered into the empty tomb. For they did see with eyes of faith what we are privileged to “see” thousands of years later – to understand – and to “know” – Jesus who died, is risen and is entrusting to those with whom he has engaged, in an up close and personal sort of way.
Contemporary ecclesiology may call us to reflect on many areas to bring us to understand that we are the church. But today as millions renew there baptismal promises I hope the reality that we are the Body of Christ really sinks in! This is not semantics. We are not postulating a hypothesis. Christ risen resides with and within us and the failure of recognizing Christ in the church has nothing to do with Christ not doing his part. Are we courageous enough to be who we say, whom Christ says, we are?
Graves become empty over the passage of many years for quite scientific reasons. Those who look in them do not conclude that the occupant has risen. They understand that things have run their course as God meant them to. But Peter and John knew in seeing Jesus’ tomb empty in less than 48 hours after his death that the body wasn’t snatched away by grave robbers. And John and Peter fulfilled their duty as they ran to go and tell the others and to engage them in reflecting on the truth of that discovery.
We know the Easter message is a catechesis on believing and being the church – Christ’s body continuing his work and mission in the world. In praying that the church fulfill the task we have been given we understand that we are a messy lot – doubters, betrayers, some of questionable reputation, some more like Jesus’ mother of heroic virtue and faith – but we yearn for Christ, yearn to live his way, yearn for intimacy with the Creator. And while this body is wounded, experiences rejection or indifference or some ridicule – it comes to be known for what it truly is, a vehicle, a sacrament allowing all to know the divine breaking into our fear and misery to lift us up beyond where we have been, beyond what we can see with human eyes – to the rich and wonderful dignity that a person has only in God and through God.
May we rejoice in the Easter proclamation of who Jesus is and who he is bringing us to be! And may our participation in this Eucharist strengthen us in living that reality.