Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-9
Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to change? Have you ever noticed how risky it is to absorb new information into an old way of doing things? Have you ever found yourself failing to understand or even hear what someone is telling you because it doesn’t fit the usual expectations? Maybe it’s just me, but I can become so resigned to bad news and trudging on, that I’m unwilling to shake it off when things get better. Then again, you might have had that experience too.
I suspect that Mary Magdalene, Peter and John would know what I’m talking about and I believe that’s what we see in today’s Gospel.
At least once a week, I publicly attest to my faith in the resurrection but, truth be told, it’s as if I’m referring to something that happened to Jesus way back when or what I believe will happen to all of of us at some undetermined time in the future. Would I be attuned to “symptoms” of the resurrection now where they as close as the person next to me or the next breath I draw?
I can certainly sympathize with Mary, Peter and John. I’m certainly no better than the three of them. In fact, they’re putting me to shame: there they are at the tomb ready for something. Mary and John both watched Jesus die. Peter denied that he knew Jesus after his arrest; it might be better for Peter if he never saw Jesus again. Yet there he is looking for him.
What is happening here? Each of them, in his or her way, is learning to let go of their original hopes and expectations of Jesus; in fact they are letting go of their hopes and expectations of themselves. That must be a very empty feeling but it’s also a very graced feeling. It’s a state of grace to be emptied of the plans and dreams or goals that keep me stuck. In a small way, it’s dying–dying to my own agenda. This is the grace of carving out a place for the unexpected, for what I cannot yet see or understand. This courtesy, this hospitality toward the unexpected, an openness to what I cannot yet see or understand. This courtesy, this hospitality for the unexpected, the incomprehensible–what is it?
In fact it is nothing less than love. The goals and dreams based on need or fear, on conditioning or comfort surrender to a welcoming space for the unique surprises, the untested potentials that Jesus offers. A self-absorbed vision of life can surrender to real sight and genuine insight so I can finally accept Jesus on his own terms. There in him is God sacrificed and dead but come to life again; not the repetition of him known according to hunger and need but someone fuller, deeper, open-ended. Loss and pain have carved out a new capacity, open and welcoming. Sorrow and regrets not only disillusion but cleanse!
Disillusionment: the dismissing of illusions. Do I prefer my illusions or am I capable of being free of them, of being more? Am I yet capable of the joy and reality of Christ’s resurrection?