The dawn greets us with mystery. The man they call Jesus of Nazareth cannot be found. His tomb is empty. Matthew tells us that an angel of the Lord rolled back the stone, and the guards “were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men,” (Mt 28:4). In all varied accounts white, dazzling, and lightning reappear to paint the picture of mystery and majesty. Terror and fear, questions and bewilderment predominate.
Since his entombment had been done in haste before the Sabbath, the women sought to complete the burial ritual and anointing with spices (see Mk 16:1 or Lk 24:1). The angels help the seekers to form the question, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?” (Lk 24:5). This is a question for all of us, not just for the women outside the tomb on that original Easter morning. Today, 2019 Easter morning, we might put it to ourselves like this, “What are you seeking in Christ Jesus?” or even, “Whom do you seek?”
The challenge to move from Good Friday to Easter Sunday is real. The intensity of suffering we experience carrying our own crosses, or even accompanying our loved ones who suffer is gripping. Even when the suffering of our loved ones comes to an end, moving away from the rugged hill of Calvary is a struggle. We can grow so used to keeping vigil at the foot of the Cross.
Alternatively, so few of the disciples remained faithful to Jesus at the cross. Many fled or hid or strove to blend in with the jeering crowds. We may see ourselves in them as well. We may at times turn away from the horror of life’s suffering in order to seek solace further away from the epicenter, sometimes through ignoring our pain, other times by masking it. Only the pure and courageous can receive the chalice of suffering without demurring.
The angels who pose the question assure the women, “He is not here, but he has been raised,” (Lk 24:5-6). The women are sent away with a message for the disciples. In some accounts, the brothers are to rendezvous in Galilee. Even the disciples heading toward Emmaus, are met by our Lord as they are walking. Movement predominates Easter morning and the days that follow, commotion even, a flood of activity. No one stays at the empty tomb.
This week, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned, a tragedy for all humanity. People gathered to keep vigil in prayer and disbelief. All marveled. This is a moment of great trial for all of us believers as a mother church of our Faith lays, a hulk of her former self, in cinders and ash. Now it is time to rebuild, an occasion to move forward with prayerful yet decisive action. Let those words ring in our ears, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised.”
Our God is the God of the living. Yes, Jesus suffered and died on that rugged cross, but He has been raised from the dead. Jesus is alive. Easter is the time to enter into New Life in Christ, the Risen One. Jesus is alive. No matter what suffering or terror buffets us, the angels also invite us, to movement, to activity, to new life. We cannot remain at Calvary, or even at the empty tomb. Jesus is alive. We must seek Him Who lives in the land of the living!
Yours in the living God,