And he saw and believed.
People of God: see and believe!
We have seen the betrayal of Holy Thursday, known the despair of Good Friday, and felt the loneliness of the quiet tomb on Holy Saturday. During this past week, we remember the betrayal, despair and then eerie quiet that surrounded Marathon Monday in this city just a year ago.
But now, on this Easter Sunday, in this very place, we may see and believe that tomb is empty – empty not because someone has moved the body – but rather empty because the Lord is risen!
Easter Sunday doesn’t wipe away the death of Jesus: it doesn’t wipe away the pain and suffering that we have felt in our own lives either – it doesn’t bring back lives lost – but it does show us all that even in the darkest shadows of death, the light of Christ summons us back to a world that isn’t perfect, but still filled with the loving embrace of God’s love. This love is found in the care of our family, friends, neighbors, and please God, our Church too.
Easter – the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God – transforms Jesus’ existence. He lives, no more to die. And so too it is with us: Easter doesn’t guarantee us happiness; but it does promise us salvation.
The Good News of Easter is that the promise of salvation isn’t pushed off into some distant time: no, our salvation is the experience of God among us right now. It’s in the form of the Eucharist that we will share in just a few minutes; it’s in the form of forgiveness, compassion, and mercy. It’s in the form of each other – you and me – when we take others down off their crosses so that they can rise again.
The Easter event is not something that just happened once, as if it were simply dot on the map history. The reason we celebrate Easter is not because of one event in history: we gather here to celebrate Easter because the Spirit of the Risen Christ lives in each one of us in our hearts, minds, and our actions too. This Spirit resides in each one of us because someone, at some point in our lives, loved us enough to bring us to be baptized, so that we might become part of the Body of Christ.
As the sun rises this morning, we recall that there are days in our lives that are filled with the light of life, and yet, at the same time, there are days filled with darkness. Our lives are lived between light and darkness: sometimes it is our own fault, sometimes we’re innocent by-standers, and still other times we don’t even know what has happened – we’re just left to pick up the pieces of our lives.
But – Easter stands out as God’s great yes to all of us – to all humanity. The sun fades each day, but the light of Christ does not: the light of the Son – the Son of God – shines on each of us precisely because Jesus, God’s Son, has risen from the dead.
Today, by coming here, we have taken the same journey of Mary Magdalene: hoping against hope that the events of Good Friday could be reversed. We have taken the same journey as Peter, running toward the tomb, not daring to hope that God could be as good as to raise Jesus from the dead.
Brothers and sisters: the question asked of us today now that we are here in the same place as Mary and Peter is what are we to do? What are the things that we’ve buried in the tombs: is it shame, anger, grudges, lack of mercy, or refusing compassion? What are those things that we have sitting in the tombs of our lives, perhaps out of sight, but not out of mind, thinking that they aren’t weighing us down? We all have them: maybe we cannot bring ourselves to say I’m sorry; or perhaps we cannot say, “I forgive you.” Maybe we’ve let our relationship with a friend, a sibling or a spouse go cold – perhaps even we’ve lost touch with God.
Whatever these tombs are located – the forgotten slights or the old wounds — today we remember that Mary and Simon Peter and all of us too – still go running to the tomb to find the most jarring of all facts: the tomb is empty, death has been defeated, the Lord lives no more to die: Christ is risen, Alleluia!