Sunday, April 21 – Easter Sunday
+ Easter Day 2019 +
There are no eyewitnesses. The accounts, stuttering descriptions of a unique transformation, are written years later and differ in detail.
The presence of the Risen Christ in and among the disciples became so real that they had to say it was way more than something they just imagined or intuited. That Real Presence changed them.
As Evelyn Underhill wrote, the Easter appearances are the transition between “the historical manifestation of the Word Incarnate, and the beginning of His hidden life within the Church.”[i]
God who is ecstatic, self-emptying love, has emptied himself into, has entered into every atom and fiber of his creation.
Showing his absolute trust in God by accepting suffering and willingly dying Jesus, places within them the redemptive power of God’s grace and mercy.
The resurrection is hidden in the shadow of the cross: “When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory.”
Lifted up on the cross, from the grave, those glorious wounds show us what we do with love, what love costs, show us that God is with us right now in all we suffer in this world.
It is no accident that Peter, so aware of how he failed, doesn’t know what to make of the empty tomb. No accident that the disciple Jesus loved believes but cannot think of what to say.
It is no accident, that Jesus presents himself to Mary Magdalene, who, sick with grief, came before dawn to the tomb and stayed weeping beside it.
She saw him tortured and murdered. She saw his male disciples, betray, abandon, and deny him. Human weakness she understood. But to desecrate the corpse, to be so filled with hate that you want to remove all trace of him and all that he did…
Our sufferings, our compassion for others, draw him to us. Suffering and dying now hold within them new life. They have become a sharing in his love for us, a way to be hidden within him.
You have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed—and he is your life—you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.
The burning bush of God’s presence within his creation becomes the divine presence burning in our hearts. Those who discover that burning presence within are sent to proclaim it fearlessly, as was Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles.
The Risen Christ is here to be recognized in the stranger, the imprisoned, the vulnerable, even in our enemies. His Real Presence is here to be recognized in the Breaking of the read.
We can live—here and now—with gusto and generosity, laying down our lives in handing on life. We need not fear death, or even the process of dying.
The Risen Lord is waiting for us, even in our dying. I will close with a meditation Fr. De Chardin recorded in The Divine Milieu:
…grant when my hour comes, that when the signs of age begin to mark my body (and still more when they touch my mind); when the ill that is to diminish me or carry me off strikes from without or is born within me…and above all at that last moment when I feel I am losing hold of myself and am absolutely passive within the hands of the great unknown forces that have formed me; in all those dark moments, O God, grant that I may understand that it is you (provided only my faith is strong enough) who are painfully parting the fibers of my being in order to penetrate to the very marrow of my substance and bear me away within yourself.
Teach me to treat my death as an act of communion.[ii]
A life hidden with Christ in God. An act of communion. Bear me away within yourself. Until you come in glory.
[i]Lent With Evelyn Underhill. ed. G.P. Mellick Belshaw. Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 1990. p. 105.
[ii]The Divine Milieu. NY: Harper & Row, 1968. p. 89-90.