We are an Easter People!
Have you ever heard that phrase or seen it on a banner? I have always been a little uncomfortable with it. Just like I am a little uncomfortable with the “resurrectifix” you sometimes see at churches. I’m sure in most of those instances, people are just trying to emphasize the amazing miracle of the Resurrection of the Lord. To that I say, Amen! But what concerns me in such expressions is the possibility that people are jumping ahead to the ending of the story, like Isaac skipping a scary part in “The Incredibles”.
The Cross and the Resurrection are like two sides of the same coin (analogy courtesy of Brad). You simply can’t have one without the other. The Resurrection without the Cross (and Jesus on it) loses it’s meaning. Do you think Mary Magdalene would have clinged so tightly to Jesus if he’d just been away on business? She stood by while he was beaten within an inch of his life, made to carry the cross of a criminal, crowned with thorns, had his flesh pounded through with nails, all the while crowds jeered at him and spat upon him.
We need to consider the Crucifixion in its fullness. It is true that the suffering of Jesus is repugnant. Anyone who has seen the Passion of the Christ can attest to that. But think of a time when you sat with a loved one as they wasted away from some terrible disease, or cleaned up their vomit or even just changed a particularly nasty diaper. Do you do so in disgust, or do you see past it to the one you love who was suffering? This is how we should be with Jesus in his Passion. And we all know that his Passion continues in the suffering of our own lives and those we love today: in their sickness, loneliness, financial troubles or despair. Only those who have known the Cross can truly experience joy when the tomb is found empty.
Similarly, we cannot have the Cross without considering the Resurrection. I think Mary, Jesus’ mother, knew he would rise. Being the wife of the Holy Spirit, she understood a lot more of those Old Testament prophesies than the disciples. And she suffered still, but with hope. Maybe that is the one thing that kept her from falling down dead with grief: this is not the end. Death will not have the final word.
And so it is with us. Without the Resurrection, Paul says, our faith has been in vain. It’s all a big joke. We’re the most pitiable of all people. We drag ourselves through this life of misery and when it’s over, we’re worm food- just like that preacher from Nazareth that gained a little traction all those years ago. But of course, it’s not. From the Resurrection, we are oriented toward our final end. We know that it is worth it, that if we die with him, we will rise with him in glory. Why is Lent 40 days and Easter 50? I’m sure it has something to do with the Jewish feasts of Passover and Pentecost, but perhaps it is also a reminder that eternity will continue f o r e v e r… way longer than this time in the valley of tears.
So let’s not skip any part of the salvation Christ won for us. Not just during Lent and Easter are we called to remember these realities, but we can build them into the rhytmn of life by fasting on Fridays and going to church on Sundays. And perhaps we should proclaim that we are People of the Pascal Mystery. Or I guess we could just call ourselves the Church. 🙂
Happy Easter, all. May you and your families be richly blessed in this holy season.