Homily: He Is Risen Indeed – Threshold To New Life

Poor Mary Magdalene. You might think she has it even worse on this first day of the week, her hopes once high, now crushed. In John’s Gospel, she comes to the grave alone; we also note that she, a woman, was there in all four gospels. We wonder what she’s thinking, and what she expects to find. It seems certain at least that she does not expect an empty tomb.

Resurrection, unlike springtime, is entirely unnatural. When a human being goes into the ground, that is that….You say good-bye. You pay your respects and you go on with your life as best you can, knowing that the only place springtime happens in a cemetery is on the graves, not in them. Mary is lost. Like an abandoned pup who had lost her master, staying rooted to the last place he had been without the least idea what to do next.

Similarly, the two disciples, Peter and ‘the one Jesus loved’, who responded to her alarmed notice that ‘they’ have taken Jesus’ body and we don’t know where ‘they’ took it. When they arrive at the grave, racing, it seems, against each other. they see the grave cloths left behind by Jesus and they ‘saw and believed’. And yet they did not ‘yet understand’. But it isn’t clear what the two disciples ‘believed’ when they returned to their houses. We know Jesus still felt it necessary to commission Mary Magdalene to tell the believing community the good news. Jesus entrusts the primary proclamation of our faith to this ‘insider’, this ‘enlightened one’, who is also one of the ‘least’, one of the ‘little ones’. How biblical!

Even after he is raised, Jesus continues to bear the wounds of the empire that executed him. Easter means God’s Great Cleanup of the world has begun – but it will not happen without us. Following Jesus after that encounter means sharing Jesus’ passion for the kingdom of God. It is the world the prophets dreamed of – a world in which everyone has enough and systems are fair — the very dream of God, whose heart is justice.

That sounds as if there is more for us to do than merely take good news back to the others: it’s a call for our whole lives. The world should be able to see in our lives our own passion for the truth that Jesus is risen and that God has begun ‘The Great Clean-up’, the one that won’t happen without us. If we go back to our lives tomorrow as if nothing has changed, what then have we really experienced?

The new life within us, planted by God, new life that “cannot be killed. If we can remember that then there is nothing we cannot do: move mountains, banish fear, love our enemies, change the world. The only thing we cannot do is hold on to him. Instead, we must let him take us where he is going, into the white hot presence of God, who is not behind us but ahead of us, every step of the way”

What do you expect from life? In your relationships, in your family, your neighborhood, your community, the nation, and the world, in your own congregation and in the Roman Catholic Church – what do you dare to hope for? When you come to church on Sunday morning and prepare for worship, what do you expect to happen that day? When you go to work,, visit the sick, make plans, dream dreams, what do you expect to see? Have you ever done the things you planned to do, and then witnessed something, or even experienced something that you never thought would happen? When have you been surprised, caught ‘off guard’ by good news and unforeseen joy? Has anything ever happened in your life that seemed “too good to be true”? What evidence did you need in order to trust in the good news? What did you need to ‘see’ in order to ‘go tell’?

There are two totally different worlds in the Easter Sunday gospel story, one full of sadness and despair, the other one pulsating with resurrection and new life. Without even knowing that they had crossed the border, Mary John and Peter left the old world where hope is in constant danger, and might makes right, and

death is victorious, and peace has little chance, and the rich get richer, and the weak all eventually suffer under some Pontius Pilate or another, and people hatch murderous plots, and dead people stay dead — and suddenly, so very suddenly, they crossed the threshold into the startling and breathtaking world of resurrection and life.

This was the moment that changed the world then , and hopefully, our expectations, even today, two thousand years later. Just consider the new way things are in the light of resurrection: the way the world used to be, if something troubling got in the way, like a call for racial justice or a worker for peace or an advocate for mercy, the world could just kill it and it would be done with it. But Jesus is alive, and righteousness, mercy, and peace cannot be dismissed with a cross or a sword. Like Mary Magdalene, where are we in this new and frightening resurrection
world? And what will we do?

(@Kathryn Matthews Huey)

 

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