Easter Sunday, 4 April, 2021: Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-9
How can I imagine what the resurrection-life is? Scripture doesn’t systematically describe it and theological reflection can only be logical, not experiential. We have yet to live it. It is our hope, not another specimen under a microscope.
It is easier to say what the resurrection is not. I believe it is even necessary to describe what it is not, especially in a culture oriented to success.
The Resurrection of Jesus is not the ultimate success story. Jesus’ ministry is hardly a model of success: at the crucial moment, his closest followers abandoned him rather than embodying his commitment. In John’s Gospel, even after they know that the tomb is empty, Peter and a few others return to their fishing. If the Risen Lord hadn’t met them there, would they have gone on fishing for the rest of their lives?
They have yet to realize what they have been experiencing: that suffering, pain and loss could be a pedagogy, not a punishment—a temporal self-emptying, reflecting the eternal self-emptying of the Son of God, to receive God the Father. This is what Jesus would open to those who follow in his steps.
The Resurrection reduces the dichotomies of success and failure, winning and losing, fulfilment and loss, living or dying, to nonsense; the expectations that raise false hopes or the fears that generate our anxieties, are turned upside down.
My disappointments certainly level my anticipations; I can react with bitterness or I can let go and be free to recognize what I could never imagine. Isn’t that how Mary Magdalene ultimately recognized the voice of Jesus whom she’d mistaken for a gardener? Isn’t that how the Apostles recognized the stranger on the shore as Jesus?