Fear. Suffering. Death. Grief. Despair. Confusion.
In this Gospel account of Easter morning, we do not have the victorious claim of resurrection… and that seems so fitting at this moment. Holy Week and John’s Gospel place us squarely in our experience of the on-going pandemic and invite us to be in it, companioned by the first followers of Jesus, feeling the full force of our fear, suffering, grief, despair, and confusion. For some, this is even more gripping as they experience loss of family, friends, colleagues…
This Gospel account does not allow us to slide easily into proclaiming Jesus is resurrected. No, it invites us to dig deep within ourselves to trust God, to believe in living in the face of massive death, to live the uncertainty of these times with a faith that calls us to hope and invites conversion of heart, mind, habit, and values. Life is precious… so precious that God would not allow death to overcome it. At this moment, we are being asked to protect life, to sacrifice for life, to change individually so that we ensure greater safety of life for those in our family and communities. This pandemic brings suffering, death, and resurrection so close and makes it so personal.
The invitation at the end of the Gospel account is to believe even when we do not understand. The disciples in discovering the empty tomb did not jump to the joy of resurrection…they believed that Jesus was not contained by the tomb, but they did not know why or how. It was through faithful remembering of his teachings, whispered conversations with each other, and hopefulness in Jesus’ love, unconditional and unending, that they hung on until the joy of the resurrection was revealed to them.
This is our task this Easter…
…to faithfully remember the teachings of love and life given by God, taught by the church, and lived by the followers of Jesus.
…to hold conversations that help us to turn to God, trusting in the abiding presence of God, the healing action of God through us, the mercy of God that is poured out for us, and through us to all people.
…to hang on in our believing even as our understanding lags so that hopefulness and the power of God’s love can be proclaimed in our lives for the sake of the world.
With resurrection faith, let us meet our fear with Courage…suffering with Strength…death with Life… grief with Joy… despair with Hope... confusion with Trust.
And, with deep love and concern, let us pray, act, and be for others in this time of crisis.
Sr. Didi Madden, OP