April 8, 2007

With best wishes for a glorious Easter for you & yours! My cataracts surgeries went well, & I'm having to adjust to a new way of seeing the world.

They did not yet understand the Scripture that He HAD to rise from the dead. – John 20: 9
Do we yet understand? Have we come here today to encounter the Risen Christ as God has revealed Him, or merely a virtual Jesus that suits our own fancy? The Who of Easter was not a religious figure that held Himself piously aloof from the ordinary. He was not a Jesus of Madison Avenue or of Rome or Athens , but Jesus of Nazareth: a common ordinary place where nothing exciting or important would likely ever happen.
The highest appeared among the lowliest, the strongest among the weakest, the best among the worst. What He did then He does now. Surely the divine force that was present in Him can be seen in the unfolding of a leaf or the sprouting of a blade of grass. But He is most of all to be found among His fellow-humans who yearn to be free from the grip of evil, free from the grip of hunger, of war, of loneliness, & of despair.
Jesus is the Who of Easter, & what happened to Him is the What of Easter. What happened is that – as at no other time in human history – love was locked in mortal combat with hatred, life was pitted against death. Death was accepted, & death was overcome. The What of Easter is that death does not have the last word – not for His life nor for ours.
His death was not symbolic but real, without cosmetics, flowers or sweet music. Likewise His rising was real. We do not evade this startling fact by saying that “His spirit lives on” or that “His ideas live on” or that “He lives on in the lives of those who believe.” No, it is Jesus who lives. Some want a scientific explanation of all this, but science can only analyze one event by comparing it with other events. The resurrection of Jesus cannot be compared to anything else. What is proclaimed in the Easter Gospel has never happened before nor since. Others have returned from the dead – even the Bible gives examples of that – but they returned only to die again. Not so Jesus, who lives eternally.
“So what?” you might ask. We hear the answer in St. Paul ’s letter to the Collosians: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. For you have died, & your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3: 1, 3-4).
When did you first take up with Christ? Or, to be more precise, when did Christ first take up with you? The risen Lord made you part of His company, His Church, in Baptism. He renews Himself in us every time we receive communion. Our oneness with Christ is now hidden in mystery, just as His Lordship is hidden in mystery.
When the trumpet sounds & human history comes to its fulfillment, then we will know fully what we now know in part. Then we will know by experience the victory we now know by faith. For those who keep the faith, this is the Who, the What, & the So What of Easter. I deeply pray & hope that this is what all of us mean when we join with our Eastern Orthodox brethren & joyfully shout (3 times): Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!