It is quite impossible to imagine the range of emotions that the disciples of Jesus moved through over the days of his final suffering, crucifixion and resurrection.
Such heights and depths of emotional trauma and joy cannot be imagined. They must be experienced.
And “experience” is the key to understanding the Holy Week – Easter event.
The Christian Faith is not simply an historical religion. Yes, Christianity began with an actual and real historical event: God became human in Jesus (the incarnation). In Jesus God lived and breathed, he walked and worked. He loved and was loved. He was hated and suffered. Jesus was put to death as a criminal. Yes these were all actual historical events. We know this to be true since even the accounts of secular historians verify these happenings.
But with the Easter event in which God raises Jesus from death, we celebrate Jesus Christ living and present in 2021.
Jesus Christ is alive today. This is the meaning of the resurrection. The stone was rolled back. That Good Friday tomb, the place of ultimate and permanent darkness was now penetrated by the light of day.
In our own lives we have experienced death. We have also experienced life. There are days when we feel like death and we cannot see the way ahead. Anxiety and depression threaten to overwhelm us. The nights can be long. We lie awake in interminable darkness. This feels like death and our darkness entombs us.
And then, at last, comes dawn. Yes, we desired this. We longed for it. But we could do nothing to hasten it. The dawn rising of the sun is a daily divine gift. The first sign of light is a taste of hope.
We are never alone. Jesus is with us. In every sacramental celebration we begin by acknowledging our need for Him. And, especially in our darkest moments, he gifts to us the light of morning: the hope of resurrection dawning.
Six months ago Pope Francis in his Easter homily put it this way:
“Faith is not an album of past memories; Jesus is not outdated. He is alive here and now. He walks beside you each day, in every situation you are experiencing, in every trial you have to endure, in your deepest hopes and dreams. He opens new doors when you least expect it, he urges you not to indulge in nostalgia for the past or cynicism about the present. Even if you feel that all is lost, please, let yourself be open to amazement at the newness Jesus brings: he will surely surprise you.
“It is always possible to begin anew, because there is always a new life that God can awaken in us in spite of all our failures. From the rubble of our hearts – and each one of us knows the rubble of our hearts – God can create a work of art; from the ruined remnants of our humanity, God can prepare a new history. He never ceases to go ahead of us: in the cross of suffering, desolation and death, and in the glory of a life that rises again, a history that changes, a hope that is reborn. In these dark months of the pandemic, let us listen to the Risen Lord as he invites us to begin anew and never lose hope. Going to Galilee also means setting out on new paths. It means walking away from the tomb.”
Image above: Ria Bancroft’s Bronze Tabernacle doors
(Currently in storage)
from the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament Christchurch