We have been preparing for this Easter celebration with the prayer
of Lent. We have been readying ourselves to welcome our newly-baptized
members. We have been praying with the call back to our own baptismal
innocence. We now pray forwardly; leaning towards the adventure
of living Christ's life within us more publicly.
Four months ago, just before Christmas, the sun began its return
towards our half of the globe. The ancient celebrations of its return
proclaimed hope, fruitfulness and life. We have Easter symbols of little
chickens scratching their way out of eggshells. We have little baby rabbits
hopping playfully around young children. We have Easter Flowers to
sing the ancient hymn which I heard on our front lawn this morning. The
sun rose and by its light we see all things anew. Death has been conquered
and life belongs again to the living.
The Son of God rises and like the sun of the heavens, he springs
into life, untombed himself, he says, "Death is no more the ultimate human
experience. The soul's winter is past. Come out and enjoy the
Son's shining warmth."
We will be listening these next two months of the adventures of
the early Church from the Acts of the Apostles. First, we hear from
Peter who has been summoned from Jaffa to Caesarea by a centurion by the
name of Cornelius who had a vision during his prayer. He was advised
to fetch Peter who would enlighten him. What we hear is Peters little
summary of Jesus' call, life's labors and how he was killed. He then
relates how Jesus had been seen by believers and how faith in him continues
Jesus' ministry of healing.
The Gospel opens with the darkness just before dawn. This
again is an artistic form for the writer of this account; good things happen
in the light and bad things occur in the dark. Something really good
is about to happen, but not quite just yet. Mary Magdala comes to the
tomb while still in the dark about Jesus' having risen, but it is not night,
but the dawning of the light is very near. She notices the stone's
having been rolled aside, but she is still in the dark about its true meaning.
Mary informs Peter and the 'disciple whom Jesus loved' of her
experience an dso, they run back with differing times in arrival. They are
moving slowly into something dawning on them. Jesus is not there, but
having some little evidence, they believe what they see and begin living
what they believe. This is exactly how history began becoming news,
Good News. These two runners did not just sit down and try to figure
this whole thing out. They remembered, they believed and they left Jesus'
tomb and began his resurrection in them.
We may be in the dark about how the Resurrection took place. We
can intellectually stay in the tomb of our prideful minds until some light
turns us on. The early believers saw what they saw and believed what
they could not see. They began making news by their living in the light,
in the day of hope. Seeing, having to see, demanding to see lead ultimately
to frustration and back into the dark.
Dawn is such a wonderful Easter symbol. Many Christians
celebrate Easter by attending "Sunrise Services." At dawn though, which
is the time in which we actually live, things are just coming into view.
Peter and the other disciple saw, but it was the dawning of the dawn,
not the noon of eternal clarity. I assume folks who wake up early to
catch and celebrate the Easter sunrise, feel cheated or sad when clouds dim
the sun's light and warmth. The news from the early Church was and
is that we have just the exact right amount to see and still believe. Having
to see signs, evidence, written reports an such is a form of blindness; blinded
by what we see or have to see.
We who believe are untombed to make news by how we live with what
we have seen and not seen. The good news is that we have new baptized
members in our midst. The good news is that we believe the Good News
that Jesus has risen and so have we. We have risen above the natural earthly
demand for more light. I still hear this morning's hymn on our lawn,
"Winter's grip has ended; look around and see what you see and believe."
Thank God, the two runners did not stay until they figured it all out.
We would all still be in the dark.
"He fathers forth whose beauty is past change.
Praise Him." G.M. Hopkins, S.J.
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