Apr 4, 2015

The Lord is risen indeed!

The Word for Easter morning: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/040515.cfm

How do you describe the indescribable?  How do you put faith in what logic, reason, and measurable science tell you is impossible? How do you verify what cannot be measured or calculated?  That is the dilemma we find ourselves in each year on Easter. And it is perhaps the very same quandary we find ourselves confronted with in this modern age in which technology rules the day and in many cases forms how we think and how we behave. 

Yet, we Christians proclaim a truth today in what can only be believed if we embrace a God without limits; a God for who all things are possible. The risen Lord of faith is the same Jesus of Nazareth who walked, talked, and moved in the limits of space and time and who proclaimed a Gospel of love and unlimited forgiveness and mercy.  It is the same Jesus who reminded us that we are brothers and sisters of each other and that he would form a community of disciples, his Church, where we would encounter him living and true and invited us to live according to his Way.

Fr. James Martin in his book Jesus: A Pilgrimage describes the resurrection experience of Jesus with his Apostles in this way: “Something dramatic, something undeniable, something visible, something tangible was needed to transform them from fearful to fearless . . . the appearance of the Risen Christ was so dramatic, so unmistakable, so obvious – in a word, so real – that it transformed the formerly terrified disciples into courageous proclaimers of the message of Jesus. Only a physical experience of the Risen Christ, something they could actually see and hear and touch could possibly account for such a dramatic conversion.”

And so we are left with the amazing stories of the Gospels, the only written account we have of the resurrection of Jesus from the early first century.  Everything else beyond that time we read about or hear about on this matter is only further commentary on these original eye witnesses.  That’s an astounding expectation that we are called to put our faith in. But they questioned as well.  From the Gospel stories we hear:

“It is still dark

We don’t know where Jesus is.

We do not yet understand.

What does it mean to rise from the dead?”

For us who live such a distance from those indescribable events we must rely on the testimony of the Gospel stories and the history of Christianity to support our same faith in the risen Christ.  In Mark’s (John’s) Gospel this day we hear of the empty tomb, angels who assured the women who came to the tomb for an entirely other purpose early that Sunday morning, that the dead body of Jesus they intended to anoint was no longer there.  Instead, as the angels testified,: “He has been raised; he is not here.”

Later we hear of other experiences that the Gospel writers seem strained to describe in words:  fearful, amazed, joyful, confused, startled and terrified.  So we are left to answer the question of whether it is fantasy or fact. 

Primarily we are believers because this faith has passed down from one generation to the next.  This day we are witnesses to that once again as we welcome among us our brothers and sisters who have journeyed along the way and come to a point when they stand up and commit themselves to the same faith that others have inspired them to live.

Like Mary Magdalene, like Peter and John, like Thomas who finally believed when he saw the risen Lord stand before him, like the two disciples along the road who saw Jesus in the breaking of bread and the word he spoke.

Like millions of Christians who were and are martyred rather than deny their faith, like faith filled parents who bring their children to be baptized, or young children who walk forward to receive the body and blood of the Lord for the first time, like the sick who call out for healing, and the sinner who hopes for forgiveness, and the couple who comes to the Church to enter marriage and to form a family of new believers, the man who commits his life to ordained ministry or the youth who recommit themselves to an ancient faith and pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit’s anointing, or the generous and compassionate who feed the poor and give home to the homeless. And, in the face of the final moments of death - our faith answers that Christ has conquered death with the promise of eternal life. "I am the resurrection and the life," he promised us.

The signs of the risen Christ are all around us if we just enter this same way of life and walk with faith in his Way of love and mercy.   

As one writer put it, “Jesus asked for followers not admirers.  He didn’t want us to look on from a distance but to walk closely in his way.”  Unless we Christians live a life that is compatible with all we profess this night (morning) how can we expect the world to believe the unbelievable? 

The Church is his Body and we are his people broken and blessed, anointed and sealed, fed and sent out to proclaim him as the only greatest hope for the world. 

Christ is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

O God, who on this day,
through your Only Begotten Son,
have conquered death
and unlocked for us the path to eternity,
grant, we pray, that we who keep
the solemnity of the Lord's Resurrection
may, through the renewal brought by your Spirit,
rise up in the light of life.

(Roman Missal: Easter Day)