Today is of course the church’s greatest day. It is the day for celebration, the day when the church declares that Jesus Christ has risen, that death has lost its sting, the good triumphs over evil, that faith, hope and love have the last word.
But, that is not how the Marys felt as they approached the tomb on that first Easter morning. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome didn’t go to the tomb anticipating the resurrection. They approached the tomb because they were faithful, loving, women who simply wanted to anoint the man, Jesus, who had left such a mark on their lives.
They went to the tomb out of a sense of fidelity and love. And, there is something we can learn from this: do we approach Jesus with fidelity and love in our hearts? I hope so because fidelity and love are the keys to opening up a whole world of possibility. Fidelity and love are the very virtues that allow us to overcome fear and enter into the deepest of relationships. Fidelity and love allow us to overcome alarm and fear.
The resurrection is the means that God chose to prove his love: ‘resurrection love rolls away the stone of fear forever.’ The resurrection is God’s way of saying to us: ‘your story does not need to be dictated by the past, by your fears, anxieties and sins, instead look ahead to what might be possible and, live in hope; hope that things can be different both in this world and for all eternity.’
It’s such a startling message that in some ways it should leave us feeling just a little bit amazed and even terrified. Its a message that challenges the assumption that power, strength and authority are the way to deal with problem people. This was, after all, the false logic of Good Friday. On Good Friday the world had done its worst by Jesus and in doing so believed that the final word had been spoken. But Jesus – the King of Love - is the final word. The saving power of Jesus and the message of faith, hope and love he came to bring could not be erased by the brutality and injustice of the Cross.
In rising again Jesus says that God, always, has the final word and, the word is love. The truly amazing thing about God’s love is that it doesn’t discriminate, it is made freely available to all. St. Peter makes this point powerfully in his opening salvo in the reading from Acts, when he says: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality.’
Easter day, the day of the resurrection, invites us to enter into the very best of love stories. It invites us to accept that we are loved by the God who died and rose again. As Christians we can live in hope because of, and through, the resurrection. Sometimes, often, everything around us seems bleak and fear and hatred seem to have the upper hand. When this is the case we need to focus on the resurrection and through faith reclaim it as the event which uniquely 'rolls away the stone of fear forever.’
But as disciples of Jesus, which we are, we need to go one stage further and commit to living as children of the resurrection. Like the Mary’s, even though we may feel awkward, we need to ‘go, tell’ others. Thank goodness they went and told Peter and the other disciples, because through telling Peter they facilitated all future tellings of the resurrection story. Telling the resurrection story is part of our Christian duty, part of what it means to exercise fidelity.
And, when we tell the story, in word or deed, we need to remember like Peter, that ‘God shows no partiality.’ The Christian love story is the universal story. It is the story that allows all people to live lives of faith, hope and love and that is why we must never tire of telling it, and living it, for it alone is the story that can truly transform all people and all situations. Through telling and living the resurrection love story we break down barriers and become the arms of God’s love in, and for, the world. We partner with Jesus in rolling away the ‘stone of fear forever.’ To partner with Jesus is to live as children of the resurrection; disciples in other words.
Let us pray:
Loving Lord, help us to live as children of the resurrection. Through the power of the resurrection help us to live in faith, hope and love, so that the ‘stone of fear,’ may be rolled away for all people, in all places. Thank you Lord that by overcoming death you opened the way of life, now and for all eternity.