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Easter

April 13, 2009

Christ is risen! alleluia!

The tomb was empty. All four Gospels testify to this, though (very  reassuringly) they disagree about the details. Any policeman could tell you the differing stories of four witnesses to a traffic accident. But the accident did happen, all four agree. And the tomb was empty, all four agreed.

Then Jesus started appearing to various people. And it is instructive to note those he did not appear to.

Not Pilate, not Herod, not the Romans, not the Pharisees and priests of the Temple.

No, he appeared alive to the Apostles, to his Mother, to a couple of disheartened disciples, then to several hundred of them.

What was the difference? Well, why would he appear to the first lot?  Just to convince them that his claims were true? He could have done that by coming down from the Cross when they taunted him. Or indeed when the Devil tempted him in the desert to throw himself from the temple tower to be seen caught by angels. This would certainly have convinced them he was something special. But so what? They would have gone their way unchanged, unredeemed.

That kind of appearance was useless. Jesus only appeared to those who loved him already, without the Resurrection. They loved him for his words of life, his love of sinners, his total trust in God his Father, his contempt for hypocrisy, his freedom from prejudice.

These lovers of Jesus had been left in a state of shock by the seeming disaster of the Crucifixion. But some may have listened more closely to him, and have been expecting some sort of reversal of the disaster. And others, through their tears, may well have been muttering rebelliously: “Well, they may have killed him, but how can there be any better way to live than the one he showed us?”

And it was to his lovers only that he appeared. Because only they could understand what he had done.

And it is only to his lovers today he appears, to you and me. The Resurrection “proves” nothing for us. It is just the logical and infinitely satisfying outcome of all that God has ever done, from Creation to the life and death of Jesus. We don’t love him because he rose from the dead; we don’t love him because he promises us everlasting life. We love him because we see in him infinite goodness, total trustworthiness, someone worth dying for. And of course, someone worth living for.

Every Easter Monday, we should mop our brows from the roller-coaster that is Holy Week, and get on with the  rest of our lives, which may stop in ten or twenty or fifty years on this planet but which will continue within the life of God. 

And if you think that sounds potentially boring, remember Dame Julian of Norwich’s vision of all creation like a hazelnut in the hand of God. And she had no idea that  the universe contains trillions of galaxies like our own, and that  galaxy contains trillions of stars. A God who created that must have the most fantastic roller-coasters waiting for us on the other side. And then, of course, all the love affairs we could ever have wanted, combined with the one love of our live. It’s hard to imagine, but a hell of a lot better than clouds and incense and harps!

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