Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-9
I believe today’s Gospel tells us how God loves us. God loves us with so much respect that he allows us the risk of discovery. The point isn’t to get all the right information lined up or even to understand. The point is to keep coming back, to try to connect. God can lavish all the love from the divine depths upon me, but until I respond, the circuit isn’t complete. It’s all in vain until I respond, even if I fumble.
Look at Mary Magdalene. The important thing is not that she understood the resurrection. Who does? Sure, I understand the resurrection as long as it’s an abstract theory; confronted with an actual death, confronted with loss, I’m baffled. But that didn’t stop Mary. She went back to the tomb and found it empty. Even that didn’t keep her away. She went back again and, incredibly, she met the Risen Lord.
Look at Peter. He had denied Jesus three times but not even guilt could keep him away. He did not understand the scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead, but he persisted enough to recognize, finally, the Risen Lord.
How many people around Mary and Peter could never see the Risen Lord because their prejudices would never allow them?
Look at the Beloved Disciple. He had stood by Jesus at the cross and though, when he saw the grave clothes folded in the empty tomb, he believed, he is included with Peter as they who did not understand the scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.
How often have I confused believing, having faith as what I believe? This exemplary disciple doesn’t understand what he believes. No, believing is whom I believe, whom I trust to whom I entrust myself. And that is love.
How many of us, at the death of a loved one, find ourselves baffled by the finality of death, but then, our defenses shaken by grief and loss, collapse and we trust, we love, we recognize how real the resurrection is?
That’s how God loves us: trusting us to develop and respond wholeheartedly, trusting us to forsake our fears and prejudices, our non-negotiable demands, but awaiting our response as we grow and deepen.
But it may not be like that! Instead I can barricade myself in my fears, my doubts, my self-reliance, reopen my wounds again and again with self-pity, blinding myself to both love and new life.
But that’s how God loves us: freely, without coercion. So freely, that God respects my freedom to be wrong.