Why look among the dead for the living?

Saturday April 16, 2022, Easter Vigil

Genesis 1:26-31, Exodus 14:15-15:1, Ezekiel 36:16-17, 18-28, Romans 6:3-11

Gospel Luke 24:1-12


Why look among the dead for someone who is alive?       

Jesus has risen.  You will also rise.  You are not meant to stay in Lent.

We all make mistakes, but we are not meant to be slaves to our sin.    

In Rome, Caritas feeds thousands of homeless people, the poor, and migrants every day.  Several of those who come to serve the meals were themselves once homeless, addicts, or involved in crime.  There is nothing more inspiring than being with someone who once was caught in the power of sin and now has transcended themselves in service of others. 

We all have pain and suffering; it is part of a world in which decay and entropy open up new possibilities of existence. But Christians are not meant to get stuck in the pain and suffering.  I remember seeing a man who was born with no arms or legs.  He worked in high schools with teenagers showing them how to live lives of hope.   He had an indomitable spirit. Recently I saw a video of a cellist playing in the bombed-out ruins of apartment buildings in Kyiv, Ukraine.  His action said to me, “you may destroy our buildings, but you cannot destroy our spirit.”  Such powerful messages of hope.

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is our message hope.  In Christ death is a passageway to life, not an end. We are a people of hope.  And hope always rises again.

The price of justice in this world may be suffering, but we need not be discouraged.  It is our pride that makes us want to take control of our own life and not handover our lives to God.  In resurrection we let go of destructive pride.  For death is the ultimate disempowerment.  And only God can lift us from that place.  We cannot do it ourselves, just as we cannot control our own lives, no matter how hard we try.  The resurrection of Jesus reminds us of this.  Remember that even Jesus surrendered himself, “Father into your hands I commend my spirit”.  “Father, let it be not as I would wish, but as you would have it.”

2 Corinthians 4:7-11 says,

We hold a treasure in earthenware jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from usWe are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 

We are deeply mindful of the incomprehensible senseless killings in Ukraine, Yemen, Myanmar, Mozambique, and elsewhere.  The daily images are so heartbreaking; suffering and death are everywhere.  How can we not feel shock or rage at what we are seeing?  We do not know how or when it will end.  We are in a world largely characterized by uncertainty and volatility.  Yet, amid darkness, light shines: we are seeing heroic acts of people welcoming refugees into their homes, feeding the hungry, caring for the wounded and the lost; we are seeing hope and courage and resilience.

Isaiah 26:19 says,

Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.  You who dwell in the dust, awake, and sing for joy!  For your hope is a hope of light.”

We are called together to be missionaries of hope in a new world.  It must be together… for nothing can be carried alone.  We can only build the future by being and doing our mission together.  Everything, everyone, is interconnected.  Hope, is the name of the future, is able to see a tomorrow, is the hidden seed of life that will, in time, emerge.

The best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment.  We need to let go of worry and anxiety about what will happen, and, rather pay attention to the current realities and learn to accept what has been given, and to do what needs doing, in faith, hope and love.  

We are people of the resurrection, not the crucifixion.  We must not get stuck at the cross.  The whole purpose of the cross is to let us die to what in ourselves stops us allowing God to work the miracles of love through us.  We must go to the tomb with the women in the early morning and with them find Jesus not there.  We must go out of Jerusalem, out to the end ends of the world, to make love be known.  For God is love, and she or he who lives in love lives in God.   

Let us recall the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothingLove is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends. 

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.