Monday in the First Week of Easter

When you see someone running, the first question that comes to you is: WHY?  What is moving them to run? Are they running towards something, or away from something?   Out of hope and expectancy, or out of fear?   Running usually means that this is a CAN’T WAIT moment. An opportunity or a threat creates a need to run.  And when you run, that is all you do.  It is a totalizing experience.  Everything in you is called into action. You leave where and what you were for new option.  Totalizing.  Beyond comprehension, knowledge.  We don’t always identify or admit what we fear, run from. Some years ago, Ernest Becker wrote his book, The Denial of Death, in which he claimed that much of the structure and culture of life was really an attempt to avoid the fear and demands that an inevitable death forced upon us.  Our very character is a vital lie, he said, diversionary tactics to evade the truth. We respond with distractions, fabrications, and violence to keep us running with our backs to the fear that haunts us and the tombs still covered by stone.  But even when we run towards something that promises us joy and fulfillment, we run for something that lies in the giver of joy and outside of ourselves.  We cannot articulate what it is that draws us.  We have to wait until we are met with the gift to suddenly know what it is that gives us joy.  It is not something we can plan, produce, or predict.  It is the running itself that carries us out of ourselves.  What we fear or what we hope for colors everything.  It is totalizing.

The women in today’s Gospel as running to announce this to his disciples.   Not a very dignified picture for the imagination.   The angel told them go quickly and we are told that they went away quickly from the tomb. They seemed to be moved both by fear and joy.  A brief word study of the New Testament uncovers a number of times when the word of God’s intervention in history was answered by the immediate and whole-hearted response of dedication to action.  Mary went in haste to her cousin Elizabeth.  The shepherds went in haste to the crib in Bethlehem. The Bridegroom has come, run out to meet him.  When the father of the prodigal son saw his son from afar, he ran out to embrace him; Zaccheaus ran down quickly to welcome Jesus.  I think there is ample ground to understand this running as the effect and response, as the grace of the Resurrection come alive.  Running is an ex-cess, a coming out of yourself to transform yourself.  Running comes close to leaping, it is successive leaps. It is a worthwhile metaphor for

the resurrection: it is to jump out of yourself for joy.  Clarity of knowledge yields to the experience of life and joy.  We can’t contain ourselves for joy.  Joy cannot be contained.  The Resurrected Lord cannot be contained or held.  It is a joy which colors everything and we cannot wait to tell everyone.   Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee and there they will see me.

Jesus meets the women on their way and greets them, greets them with the words Rejoice and Do not fear.  These are His word to us on our way.  Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical God Is Love said:  Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, with a person which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.  When the living Word and presence of Christ meets our real centers,  when we approach, embrace, and worship him, we are moved by an excess that carries us out of ourselves into His joy.