April 26, 2009
EASTER III (B)
Everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled. – Lk 24: 44
Death is hardly confined to the physical realm, although in that dimension it is starkly clearer & harder to deny. But anyone who has lived long enough has experienced the death of a cherished ideal, a long sought-after goal in life, our self-confidence or the image we had of ourselves, in short, our expectations. Death of our expectations is often lingering & painful because we so tenaciously cling to our illusions about what gives our life meaning & direction.
Death here is often followed by disillusionment & despair because we yield to the temptation to think that life in general & our life in particular has neither meaning nor direction. Once shattered, our expectations seem unrepairable. And yet … slowly but surely a new set of expectations arise from the ashes. If we are lucky, they are more adequate & enduring than the previous expectations. But just when we think we’re home free, the process repeats itself all over again. Eventually, if we’re graced enough, we begin to realize that all those inadequate expectations needed to die so that we might have a clearer picture of what our life is all about.
After much suffering & struggle, we begin to realize that God had something more wonderful in mind for us than we could have invented ourselves. There was, after all, a point to the tribulations. Once we begin to see what God had been trying to show us all along, we discover a peace that not even physical death can take away from us.
For 800 years, the Old Testament prophets had been building an expectation about the coming of a Messiah. God would send this Special One to bring His people to fulfillment. Then, in the story of the Gospels, the wave breaks – & immediately begins to form again with a new expectation. In each new breaking of the wave, this great initiative of God calls for our response.
Because God loves us so much, ours is a time of joyous expectation, a time for taking the first faltering steps toward our eternal fulfilling. It is a time for catching our first glimpses of Divine love through the Scriptures & through our love for one another. There is a depth & beauty there we could scarcely have believed possible. This was what our Lord had to show the incredulous disciples in His resurrection appearances.
Love makes all the difference: not despair but joyous expectation. The Bible ends on a high note of joyous expectation that is open-ended. In the very last paragraph of the Book of Revelation, Jesus says, “I am coming soon.” To which the biblical author says, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” This expectation makes our time a time of joy & triumph. It makes our lives open-ended so that now, & at the hour of our death, we can say in utter confidence that love conquers all – even death. Come Lord Jesus! Come! Amen!