Brothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory. – Colossians 3:1-4
Jesus disappeared from before our eyes, that we might find him in our hearts. – St. Augustine
The central message of all four gospels in our New Testament is this: Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified and died, rose from the dead on the third day, and ascended into heaven. St. Paul even writes that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, we are the most pitiable of creatures, for we have put our faith in something false. But we believe that Jesus did rise from the dead. Our Scriptures tell us of several resurrection appearances. One of them, Jesus’ appearance to Mary of Magdala, bears special mention.
John’s gospel (Ch. 20) tells us that early on the day of the resurrection, while it was still dark, Mary went to the tomb. The stone was rolled away. She went and told the other disciples, who went to investigate. After they had looked into the tomb and found it empty, the disciples left, but Mary stayed. Jesus approached her, but she did not recognize him. They talked for a bit, and then Jesus uttered one word: Mary. In that instant, Mary knew who he was. She recognized her Lord, her Teacher, her Master. She clung to him with a furious strength, hardly daring to believe what her heart and soul told her were true—that the man who had given her new life had in turn received new life as well.
Jesus calls us in the same way. Every Lent and Holy Week we are challenged with the suffering and death of our Lord & Master. That is not too hard to accept, that a man with so radical a message and lifestyle might be tortured and murdered by those in power.
But then, we are challenged with a far greater mystery—that this man was in fact more than his followers could ever imagine—that he was raised from the dead, that he destroyed death and sin, and that he offered the same gifts of liberation and new life to the whole world.
This Easter season, Jesus calls us to himself. He calls us to not just bear, but rejoice in our suffering—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. He calls us to fully live out our humanity with its joys and struggles. And he tells us that in the midst of our lives, he holds onto us, with a great and furious strength, and an unparalleled depth of love and service.
He calls us each by name . . . and he offers us freedom from our addictions, freedom from the shackles of sin, freedom from death. He offers us new life, life beyond our wildest dreams, life that drenches our thirst for God, for meaning, for wholeness.
St. Augustine said God had made us restless so that we could find our rest in Him. May the God who calls us each by name quiet our wayward hearts this Easter season and lead us back home to Himself.
Blessings & Peace,