Homily: The Ressurection of Jesus

During Holy Week we have read the accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Now we have John’s account of Easter joy.

The women are the first to arrive at Jesus’ tomb. The risen Jesus appears first to women – persons who were looked down upon at the time (as they are still). The proclamation of new life starts with the very people who are marked by death, marginalization and mistreatment.

Mary of Magdala goes to the tomb, and discovering it empty, returns to tell Peter and the Beloved Disciple John. They headed out toward the Tomb..

Our passage begins with the quiet appearance of Mary Magdalene, coming from the sidelines of the story to look for Jesus body, caring for Jesus’ body even after death. That a women is the first to find the empty tomb is appropriate in a Gospel in which insiders become outsiders and outsiders do the work of Insiders, because women were looked down upon at the time, as they are still in our world. The proclamation of new life starts with the very people who are marked for marginalization and mistreatment.

The role of women varies from one society to another – but generally what women do is regarded as less important that what men do. This may explain why it was less dangerous for women to be bystanders at the crucifixion, or for them to go to the tomb first. But, no matter what, Mary’s love overcame fear of death and  society’s  prejudice. Jesus died for love. Mary’s source of courage was the courage to love. Women today identify with Mary’s courage.

We can only imagine why Mary went to the tomb in the first place, what drew her back to a place of loss and painperhaps to perform an act of tender care. Mary at the tomb provides an excellent subject for our reflection. What must she have been feeling and thinking as she went about the traditional task (women’s work) of tending to the dead? She had just witnessed brutality that was unusual even in a day of great brutality, under the heel of a brutal empire. Her heart was surely broken, her mind undoubtedly confused, Her life suddenly without the direction she might have sensed while Jesus was with them.  Even if the disciples had no idea of the destination, they did have a deep desire to follow in the direction Jesus was heading.                 Kate Huey

As so often happens, Mary makes her way to the center of what’s happening (although

she thinks everything is over, done and buried) probably to do what has to be done, the work others often don’t want to do. The tomb turns out to be one of those spaces where so much of life unfolds, The hard work of loving, of being present, the grit that allows human life to keep going in the very moments that it encounters the reality of violence and relentless march of death. God is there, even in the places of death where we are “broken by violence and by love and by the sheer exhaustion of the labor it takes to go on.

Mary and the two male disciples were looking for Jesus’ body – but they didn’t find it in the tomb. God is not God of the dead! – but God of the Living!! I believe that the tombs of all those who loved others, are empty!

John the Beloved disciple has now seen all the signs of death. He saw and believed! The faith of this “founding father”, came from an awareness that death could not hold Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus was free of the reality of death!  A community founded on such an experience has its own journey to make.

I suspect that Good Friday and Holy Saturday were as hard as they were for Jesus’ closest followers at least perhaps because they’d entertained hope that things would really be different with Jesus. That became so very, very strong that women and men left their homes, their families, every kind of  security and respectability they knew to gamble it on the possibility they imagined when they looked at Jesus:

That maybe — just maybe — the world is headed for the destiny for which God made it. Maybe the world was made by a good God, who cares.

We believe with them that the world really is headed for justice, for freedom, for peace, for love, for wholeness?.When there is justice throughout the earth – then will come the resurrection of the dead. We can’t enjoy the reign of God without changing the world.

What if it is really true that God raised Jesus from the dead? What does that say about the world, about our place in it? There are still messengers who can tell us reliably that Jesus has gone, is going, and will go ahead of us, to places and contexts we haven’t dreamed about yet. In other words, I doubt if this wonder ride of ours is even close to being over. Jesus is risen! What if that’s so? What if God is really redeeming the universe? What if Jesus isn’t just here, but has gone ahead of us, is waiting to meet us?

Jesus’ resurrection tells us that, contrary to what those who fancy themselves  the Powers That Be in this world might say, Jesus’ way is worth betting your life, your world, the whole world on, because the Maker and Lover of the whole world is behind the movement. Yes, if I was a surfer, I might say that, Jesus’ resurrection tells us that God’s way isn’t the undertow that will leave us cold and alone, but is THE wave — the most exhilarating ride there is, if we’re willing to align ourselves with it.

Jesus’ resurrection tells us that the Creator of the universe is bring the universe to LIFE, and you can bet your life on it — with God, with Jesus, with us.

The Lord is risen! And thanks be to God.               Sarah Dylan Breuer    

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