The gospel for the Easter Vigil this year has the women going to the tomb and worrying about the large stone at its entrance. They knew they could never roll this stone back by themselves and at that early hour of the morning they could not count on help being near at hand either. Death had cruelly taken away Jesus from them and the large stone now added to their sadness and frustration. This captures our human condition. In his homily for the Easter Vigil 1979, Saint Pope John Paul II tells us that the stone symbolized the weight that crushed their hearts. The death of Jesus is so overwhelming for them that they cannot speak of the Dead One but instead focus their sadness on the stone which is perhaps more ‘manageable’?
Imagine then the shock when they rouse themselves enough to lift their weary heads ( the gospel says they ‘looked up’ ) and saw the impossible stone rolled back. Then came the vertiginous proclamation ‘you seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised, He is not here.’ Their world was turned upside down and not just their world but the cosmos itself. Something utterly baffling had happened and is still in the process of happening. The blessing of the Paschal candle has these stirring words – Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega, all time belongs to Him and all the ages, to Him be glory and power through every age forever. There are no dark and terrifying corners in space or time anymore. The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome Him.
If it happened more than two millennia ago, it still happens today because the Good News is ever new. I recently read Rowan Williams’ rather difficult but profound work, Christ the Heart of Creation. He is one of the best and clearest expositors I have ever encountered and he says something concerning Christ and His relation to us that bears pondering over. The Good News is ‘Not the proclamation of a system that is universally true but more fundamentally the proclamation of an agent whose liberty to engage in a potentially transforming relation with any human subject is absolute.’ If I were to venture to put it in simple terms, I would say that nothing can come between us and the love of God poured out on us in Christ Jesus our Lord. Time and space cannot be barriers anymore between us and the Risen Christ. This is the cause of our joy above all. Christ is not yesterday. He is today and forever.
It is the Easter Octave and on behalf of the brothers of Genesee, I wish you and your loved ones a very Joyous Easter.