Sharing the Light of Easter
Posted: Sat, 03 Apr 2021 19:30
A reflection for Easter Day from Fr Gerry O'Shaughnessy SDB. Image: The Risen Lord meets Mary Magdalen, Ely. Fr Lawrence Lew OP, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr.
A very happy Easter Day to you!
Today we celebrate glory and life even in the middle of international pain and heartache—I pray that this day helps us to recognise the green shoots of hope. Today is the reason for our hope and needed optimism: do not be concerned if that glass is half empty or half full, just be thankful you have a glass in the first place!
Today we are given an account of pure faith in John's gospel, a faith that we are invited to share. Mary of Magdala is the first person to reach the tomb where Jesus was laid on Good Friday; she does not witness the event of resurrection, but is a witness to its effect: an empty tomb. In her grief and pain, she runs to the apostles, hiding in the safety of their own lockdown in the Upper Room, and shares the news,'they have taken the Lord out of the tomb.' In their anxiety, Peter and 'the other disciple' race to the place of death and try and make sense of Mary's story: the one in whom they had invested their lives and futures was gone, he had been executed and buried. They arrive and see the effects of resurrection: burial sheets and face coverings are left scattered around the tomb, but no sign of the body. In the confusion of this empty tomb, these followers meditate on what Jesus told them; they see beyond the untidy mess of this grave and recognise resurrection in the midst of death—'they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture that he must rise from the dead.'
In these times of pain and confusion, we need to share the faith of Mary, Peter and the 'other' disciple. We all can share the role of the 'other disciple': these pandemic times have tested our faith and a belief in a good God. In these days, more than ever, we need the energy of the 'other disciple' who runs energetically to the tomb, outrunning Peter in his quest to get there. We need that faithful energy to see us through the problems that life will throw at us even in the best of times; we need it to refresh our faith and belief on this Easter Morning.
Like Mary, Peter and the 'other disciple', we have experienced suffering, if only through the nightly news and the daily Coronavirus briefings from Downing St. Even in the middle of crucifixion and death, Jesus could not take away the evil that was in the world, because out of that evil comes also the freedom to choose what is good: freedom is the gift that he promised us, and freedom is the gift that he gives us. What he wants us to understand is that we are free, and the great gift of freedom means we are capable of love. Without freedom there is no love. Without love there is no such thing as freedom.
The life of Jesus and the meaning of his passion, death and resurrection has been impacting people ever since those days, more and more people every year. If you throw a stone into a pond it will cause a ripple to spread out until eventually is gets to the edges and the entire pond has been affected. The graces of the death and resurrection of Jesus have been spreading out to more and more people ever since.
Peter and the 'other disciple' reached out in response to Mary's call, 'where have they put him?' The truth is that, through the glory of resurrection, we find him in each other. Easter joy is seen in simple kindness towards one another; Easter light is seen in the friendly chat, the weekly zoom call, the 'cheeky cuppa', choosing to spend time with those who need our care and attention.
John O'Donohue has the words to help us in our own search to find the risen Lord.
We don't realise all the good we can do. A kind, encouraging word or helping hand can bring many a person through dark valleys in their lives. We weren't put here to make money or to acquire status or reputation. We were sent here to search for the light of Easter in our hearts, and when we find it we are meant to give it away generously.
Walking in the Pastures of Wonder, John O'Donohue