Welcome and Happy Easter to all! We have arrived, after the Last Supper of Holy Thursday and the cross of Good Friday, at Easter, and the image that Easter offers us is of an empty tomb. What might this image tell us?
Maybe the best way to imagine Easter is as God the Father’s deep “yes” to the life and ministry of Jesus. On Holy Thursday night, and on Good Friday, all seemed lost. Jesus is betrayed, surrounded by hostile forces, brought to trial, abandoned by his friends and followers, and sentenced to death on a cross. He walks the lonely path of Calvary. Good Friday leaves us with the stark image of the good man left alone to die on a cross.
And for a long while, that seems to be the end of the story. The disciples are nowhere to be found. The power of Rome has won out. There is no hint of anything to come, other than the tragic death of a good man on a cross. There is the long wait of what we call Holy Saturday. It’s been said that many people today live in that in-between place of Holy Saturday, haunted by the crucifixions of poverty, homelessness, loneliness, displacement, war, illness, or anything in the human condition that leads us to cry out, as Jesus did on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Good Friday is still with us in many forms.
And yet, on that morning of the third day, Mary of Magdala approaches the tomb, sees that the stone has been rolled away, and runs to find the other disciples (interesting that it’s a woman who is the first witness!). The third day brings a slow dawning for those who have followed Jesus. The tomb is empty. It takes time for these disciples to grasp what it all means (and isn’t that true for us too?).
I suspect it’s true that many today live in that in-between time of Holy Saturday, haunted by some experience of suffering and waiting for some kind of sign that there is hope beyond that. It was a long wait between the events of Good Friday and the experience of Easter Sunday. The events of Holy Thursday and Good Friday take the human experience of suffering and evil seriously. The momentous event of Easter is (and was for the early disciples) hard to grasp. And yet the resurrection of Jesus from the dead assures us of our deepest intuitions: that life is, at its core, good – that at the heart of all existence is a good and loving and faithful God.
Blessings to all!