Resurrection is not simply a doctrine. It is not just a future fact for us, or a past event for Jesus that we celebrate on Easter Sunday. It is a person, and according to the Fourth Gospel the disciples believed that when resurrection happened, it would happen to all God’s people all at once. Not to one person in the middle of time. Not just to Jesus. That would be an odd, outlandish event, unimagined, unheard-of. Resurrection is a new creation in the person of Jesus for all of creation.
There was another “emptying of a tomb” shortly before Christ’s death and resurrection. When Jesus raised Lazarus, Lazarus returned to present life. The echoes of the Lazarus story in the Easter Gospel are there partly to tell us that it was the same kind of event, but mostly to tell us that it was not. Lazarus came back into a world where death still threatened. Jesus goes on through death and out into a new world, a new creation, a new life beyond, where death itself has been defeated and life, life in all its fullness, can begin again. Easter is the beginning of a new creation, not just for Jesus but for all of us in him.
As we face the many dark and chaotic places in our world, and no doubt many dark places in our own lives where fear, resentment, shock and anxiety cripple our understanding, restrict our faith and stifle our love, let us follow Jesus out of that empty tomb, out of the dark and into the light of eternal Day. Jesus himself, risen from death to the glory of eternal life, is the beginning of the new story of our lives— not a distant historical event, but as Caryll Houselander loved to insist, “We are his resurrection; he continues to rise within us.”
The stone has been rolled away. The day dawns with a new light. The earth quakes in celebration and joy. Christ is risen, and in him so have you and I. Jesus is alive and with us. He calls us now to live everyday as Easter. His resurrection is not a one day celebration. It is a way of life. This means that every cross may flower with new life, every tomb become a womb of new birth, and every darkness be overcome by light. That is why we proclaim with hope arising from the very center of our sorrows and losses, “Alleluia! Christ is risen!”
Photograph by Brother Brian. Meditation by Father Dominic.