Reflection for the Easter Season
The Triduum has been a rather dramatic time for us. Over the course of three days, we have explored the central mystery of our faith: the God who takes our flesh in Jesus offers himself in life, death and resurrection for us, for all of us, so that we might have life and have it to the full. We have journeyed through these days washing and being washed, eating and drinking real food and real drink, venerating the wood of the cross, lighting new fires, and telling the stories of our salvation in Christ.
Chaos and Creation. Bondage and Freedom. Night and Light. Death and Life.
In these days we have experienced in our liturgies and we have understood from the details of our own lives, that our humanity seems to oscillate between opposites like these. In most cases, we desire one and are confounded by the other. We want to be free, yet we find ourselves enslaved—somehow—to something beyond our control. We want to be peaceful, yet we participate in rage and violence. We want to be alive, yet all manner of death stalks us.
Some would have us believe that God is found only in the more benevolent of these realities: in creativity, in freedom, in light, in life. But I’m not sure, finally, that “God-in-happiness” is what we celebrate on this Easter day. That seems too easy for something that has taken so much work. Even more, “God-in-happiness” seems to fly in the face of our own experience of human living as we who love God regularly wrestle with chaos, with alienation, with night.
What, then, are we celebrating at Easter?
We stand before an empty tomb whose stone has been rolled away by someone stronger than we. So, in the first place, we are celebrating our weakness and God’s strength. We celebrate God as God. Indeed: We believe in God, the Creator of heaven and earth…
We stand before an empty tomb that has held in its reverent embrace all the ravages of human sinfulness, all the “meanness” people are capable of wreaking on one other—even within the church. So, in the second place, we are celebrating God who, out of his hopeless love for us, takes our flesh and remains true to his humanity, enduring all manner of violence without becoming what killed him. We celebrate God-with-us.
Indeed: We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son our Lord, who took our flesh, was crucified, died and was buried, and who rose on the third day.
We stand before an empty tomb. And what we are looking for is not there. Yet the emptiness is filled with meaning, and the absence is invaded by presence. In Mark’s gospel, read at the Easter Vigil, the presence is suggested by “a young man…clothed in a white robe.” In John’s gospel, read on Easter morning, the presence is suggested by the burial cloths, “rolled up in a separate place.” The meaning is suggested by a surprise and by a new sense of purpose: “He is not here...”“Go and tell….” The meaning is suggested by the birth of faith: “Then the other disciple also went in...and he saw and believed.” So, in the third place, we are celebrating the abiding presence of life that emerges from emptiness, surprises us with new desires, and impels us to “go and tell” of “what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands.” We celebrate God the Spirit. Indeed: We believe in the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who fills us with life, makes of us a new creation, and sends us forth to preach good news.
On this Easter day, we rejoice in our baptisms, when we died with Christ, when we died to sin, when we died to the sort of fundamentalism that would claim God is this and not that, God is here and not there, God is in us and not in them. On this Easter day, we rejoice in our baptisms, when we rose with Christ, when we rose to the glory of God to share in God’s life, when we rose with the Christ who is sovereign over all, planting his cross in Chaos andCreation, Bondage and Freedom, Night and Light, Death andLife.
Easter joy refuses to erase the difficult terms of our human lives. It does not deny the reality of our bondage, our violence, our isolation, our dyings, but stares them squarely in the face. And in our staring we are surprised to find God’s presence. “Even the darkness is radiant in God’s sight.” “O happy fault! O necessary sin of Adam….” We are not imprisoned by warring opposites. Rather, we live in the presence of a God who abides with us within whatever opposites might attract, in all times and in all places.
To all our LGBT brothers and sisters, to all our companions in ministry, to our families and friends, we pray that you rejoice mightily today and throughout the great fifty days of Easter!
He has been raised; he is not here.
He is going before you...
See and believe...
Go and tell...
(This reflection was written by Board member, Michael Zampelli, SJ)