Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter 2018

I love how almost anticlimactic it is. “Don’t be amazed. You’re looking for Jesus of Nazareth? He’s not here. He’s been raised. See? Where they laid Him? He went on ahead to Galilee, you’ll see him there, like He told you.”

It is not, if I may insist on precision, a Resurrection story. There are no Resurrection stories in the Bible. There are only stories like this one of Mark’s, of people who showed up just a little late to catch it. This is how the story is told in all four Gospels: Jesus was crucified, He died, they buried Him, and then they went back and He wasn’t there. He’d Risen. And then they started seeing Him around.



The angel’s first words here in Mark’s account when they arrive are: “Do not be amazed.” What? Really? That’s a lot to ask of someone who went to their friend’s grave and found it empty. Think of the last time you visited a cemetery. Just how would you feel if you walked up to the grave you went to visit and saw the ground dug up, and sitting there on the monument dangling his feet was a young man in a white robe who said, “You’re looking for who? Oh… she left. She went to Marion, you can catch her there.” You’d be sure you’d gone crazy. And you’d be sure he was crazy too, if he told you, “don’t be amazed.”
you just missed Him... try Galilee?

But if you look at things from an angel’s point of view, you can start to see his point. This angel who spends all time worshipping Him, before, during, and after His Incarnation, singing “Holy, holy, holy,” who overheard Gabriel tell Mary she would conceive and bear a son by the Holy Spirit, who was singing at the top of his lungs so loud the shepherds heard it, who was watching at Cana and laughing at the look on the steward’s face… you look at it from his point of view and you start to see his point. And you can read it a little differently. “Don’t act so surprised… this is Jesus you’re looking for… don’t tell me you expected Him to stay dead!?”

Of course He didn’t, He couldn’t, it was never going to happen. What amazes us, then, is the power and depth of God’s love for us. He showed it on Friday. He poured it out to the last drop, the last breath. This is the love of Jesus Christ for you — please take this personally, I’m saying for you — and it is amazing.

I spent several hours of this week in the confessional celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I don’t know how many — a lot! I want to tell you that if those hours this week were the only thing ever accomplished by my giving my life to the priesthood, I would say it was worth it. Here is what I said over and over, what I could never get tired of saying:

God, the Father of mercies, through the death and Resurrection of His Son, has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. By the ministry of the Church, may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Now that’s amazing. And every time I heard that confessional door open I could almost hear Satan shouting, “NOOOOOOO!!!!!”

Jesus is Risen, and love has conquered death, and our sins are forgiven, and Heaven stands open before us. Eternal life, with every tear wiped away. Eternal life finally understanding the answers to every time we ever asked ‘why?’. Eternal life with everyone we love, all together. Do you have something else you want? Is there something else that matters one little bit, next to that?

Then resolve, right now, to spend your life with your eyes fixed on Jesus. To one day be where He now is. To invite Him now into where we are! Be it a good day or bad, happy or sorrowful, with our heart rejoicing or shattered in pieces, our pain is a share in His Cross and our joy is a share in His Glory... whatever happens we are His.

We call the Mass the wedding feast of the lamb, and the wedding vows apply: Health or sickness, rich or poor, good times and bad, we are God’s. Satan did his worst and still we belong to Jesus. We sinned from the start and still we belong to Jesus. We hung Him on a Cross and still we belong to Jesus.

Not because we deserve it. Not because we found a way to make it alright. But simply because He loves, with a power and strength that death can’t stop.

You are His and you were purchased at a price. There is nothing now to do but say thank you. Say thank you by being present when His body gathers to worship as He commanded, in memory of Him. Say thank you by never giving up on seeking greater purity and holiness, never being satisfied and complacent with less than the sainthood He made you for and died to make possible. Say thank you by bringing anyone and everyone you can to meet Him. Say thank you by serving Him when you meet Him at home or in the street... He told you where you’d be seeing Him: wherever there is hunger or nakedness or imprisonment, whenever someone needs you, that’s where you find Him.

He’s not buried here. Jesus? In a grave? Not a chance. Go on to meet Him where He said to. And get ready to be amazed.

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