Easter Sunday at New Melleray
[Scripture Readings: Acts: 10: 34, 37-43; Col. 3: 1-4; Jn. 20: 1-9]
The cry of joy of today’s feast, the feast we will be celebrating throughout the Easter Season is: He has risen. Christ who was put to death on the cross is alive and he calls us to share in his life; and not only to share in his life, but to witness to his resurrection and share the new life he has gained for us with all we meet. However, in order to be effective witnesses to Christ’s resurrection we need to do more than talk about it. We need to experience Christ’s resurrection ourselves and share our experience, with words, yes; but beyond words by the way we live.
There is a fundamental challenge here. Christ is above; he has ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven. We are here below in this world and the people we encounter and give witness to are here in this world. Our full participation in the glorified life of Christ lies before us the future. We need to keep our hearts set on our destiny: life on high with Christ at the right hand of the Father. Nevertheless, we have to accept the fact that our present experience of the resurrection of Christ while real is incomplete. How then are we to witness to Christ’s resurrection?
I suggest that we begin where Christ’s first disciples began: at the empty tomb. The disciples had followed Jesus in his earthly ministry; they had heard his teaching; they had seen his miracles. They had expectations in regard to where following Jesus would lead them. Those expectations had been shattered with Jesus’ crucifixion and death. Then when they went to show him the proper honor shown to a loved one who had died, he wasn’t in the tomb where they expected to find him.
We too have listened to Jesus’ words in the scriptures. We too have seen good works performed in Christ’s name, perhaps even miracles. We too have our expectations in regard to where following Christ will lead us. But there are times in life when those expectations are not fulfilled. Christ is not where we expect to find him. At these times we are faced with a choice: We can give in to disappointment and perhaps resentment; or, we can accept our bewilderment and confusion, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us deeper into the experience of Christ’s resurrected life.
At baptism we were anointed with the Holy Spirit and empowered to live as Christ’s disciples. Our part is to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and bring our empowerment to fulfillment. Our way to do this is Christ himself, who is the way, the truth and the life. The Holy Spirit will lead us in our imitation of Christ so that we can put Jesus’ words and example into practice here and now. By persevering in faith and hope through our times of disappointment and confusion the Holy Spirit will lead us in the experience of Christ’s resurrection. Our disappointments need not be the end of our hope for fulfillment. As they were for Christ’s first disciples so also for us; accepted in faith and hope our disappointments can be an opening to the fullness of life.