Acts 10:34, 37-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Colossians 3:1-4, or 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
So as to be more available to the inspirations offered in today's liturgy, imagine you are a gardener tending some flowering vines along the far wall of a garden. It is early morning, the rising sun casts long shadows across the landscape. Your back begins hurting so you stand up and look around. You wipe your eyes from the sweat and then again at what you see at some distance. It seems like a kind of love scene, but strange. Who would be embracing and conversing so apparently with tenderness at this time of the morning? There is definitely a woman who seems to be in some distress and a manly figure less clearly visible in one of those extended shadows. The woman runs off quickly and you are moved to go and see what exactly is going on in your garden. You walk straight towards the other side of the garden, but when you arrive at the spot, there is nobody around. You notice the sun illumines one of the nearby burial places and the stone which recently sealed the grave has been moved to the side and you make a note to get help to replace the stone before somebody finds out.
We are invited to pray with great joy today, because human life has meaning - we are going somewhere and all together. Suffering has meaning, mystery, sense of loss, doubts; all are given value and a place in which to rest. We do not pretend that there have not been the pains of war, suffering and loss. We do not ignore our doubts, our physical ills, nor our betrayals in our lives. We pray for "Easter Joy" which is deeper than laughter or even smiles. We pray with the apparently impossible reality that Jesus who was killed rose from the dead to find comfort and give meaning to his friends. Easter grace is extended to this world and its wars and divisions. This grace insults pretenses and offers clarity of vision to those of us who find seeing the presence of Jesus difficult at times, or always. He rose from the darkness of the tomb to untomb us from our darknesses. We pray these days to allow that grace to enlighten our "heart & mind" and lighten the burdens of being individual humans. We pray with the experiences of being found in our unpretending truth.
For the next seven weeks, we will hear much of the struggles and growth of the early Christian community. The Acts of the Apostles, written, apparently, by the author of the Gospel of Luke, is a collection of events which form the fallout from the rising from the dead of Jesus. The little groups of believer's moves out from its birthplace of Jerusalem and begin the extension of Christ's resurrectional embrace of all creation and all humankind. The Gospel of Luke portrays Jesus as moving ever so slowly up towards the heights of Jerusalem. The Acts display the Holy Spirit as dispensing God's grace downward from Jerusalem to spread like "Good news" to the ends of the earth. Jesus' Easter rising begins the movement by beginning God's second creation of creation.
We hear in today's First Reading Peter's short biography of Jesus. He, Peter, has been summoned by a devout centurion named Cornelius who during his prayer had a vision. He is told to fetch Simon, known as Peter, who will help him understand the vision. Peter arrives and speaks to the assembled the words of today's First Reading. What Peter speaks is a compilation of the major aspects of his belief in this new way. It is almost a sort of outline, topical sentences of which each one will be developed in later writings and preachings. It is important to note that Peter assumes that everyone has heard all he is saying. It is the author's method to keep presenting and reminding the readers of the basic "company line."
Our Easter Gospel is a story of Hide and Go Seek. Mary Magdala goes to the tomb and finds emptiness. The stone has been removed from the burial opening and Jesus is gone. When she informs Peter and John, they run and find emptiness as well, except they find evidence that Jesus had been there in a burial posture. "Now-you-see-him, now-you-see-him-differently" continues during these Easter days. For us it can seem a game; for Jesus it is a process of inviting his followers to deeper faith. He seems to hide, then appears, then vanishes and all so that his followers will keep seeking.
It is this "seeking" which is so central to Easter grace. Jesus is the primary seeker and his foundlings are ourselves. He moves through the "Resurrection Narratives" collecting, consoling, confronting, and eventually missioning the early believers, or doubters. In turn, we are the seekers as well. We are invited to keep looking for Jesus, even in the emptinesses of life. Jesus is "translocational." We would like to grab ahold of him, but he would say to us, "Do not cling to me, but go to my new body, my different, but real presence in community, in relationships, and within your own emptinesses."
C. S. Lewis, in his wonderful book, "SURPRISED BY JOY" writes that real joy is more in the seeking than the finding. We might have trouble with that idea until we live it awhile. What do we find when we find what we have been seeking? Eventually we will find that every answer leads to the next question. Every good and more than wonderful experience, relationship, ecstasy, does end or has certain little holes in them. So there is an empty tomb in all of life's joys that invites us to "seek" and you shall find. What will we find? We will gracefully discover the invitation to seek some more? Is that a terrible tricky game that that the Divine Magician is playing on us? Maybe!
We are believers because we do not know, but we grow more deeply as humans the more we keep reaching towards, looking for, hungering after, and always in a spirit of gratitude.
Everything ends, including this Reflection and where it ends, Jesus
is waiting to find us and be found. He has risen, but not disappeared.
He has risen from the dead to bring life to the seekers. Hope you
can watch a group of little children at an Easter Egg Hunt and notice their
joy is in the looking for and if they find one, they will want to find
one more. So again, by little children do we learn basic human truths.
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