Easter Vigil (Year A, 23 April 2011)

A shared and bigger future together

Gospel Reading
Matthew 28.1-10

Richard Rohr says it so well, as usual, and much better than I can. From his Daily Meditations, 1 January 2011:

The raising up of Jesus is not a showy miracle on God’s part, but God’s eternal promise to humanity of a FUTURE that we can enter and trust together.

On a recent day of prayer, I did some Scripture study on the four Gospel accounts of the resurrection of Jesus. Something became very clear to me that I had never seen before!

The texts do not really emphasise a miraculous ‘returning’ of Jesus’ body, nearly as much as Jesus’ new cosmic body leading us ‘forward!’

Note that he sends his disciples forward into Galilee (Matthew 28.7), into the whole world (Mark 16.20), into their own futures (Acts 1.11)—and without any baggage from the past.

Notice how many verbs and stories there are of rushing, running, rejoicing, excitement, joy, and even jumping into the water (John 21.7) and catching more than ever before!

Jesus even feigns walking ahead of the disciples and beyond them as they approach Emmaus (Luke 24.28), so they have to catch up with him. These are all people going somewhere, and somewhere they can trust. Jesus’ risen presence holds no rancour, no bad memory, no call for retribution, and in fact, he breathes forgiveness (John 20.22-23), after which he prepares for them a meal of bread and fish on the beach. This is no funereal liturgy of lament but a liturgy of feeding for the future, at which Jesus is the cook!

He allows Peter to undo his three betrayals with three expressions of love (John 21.15-17) to take away all bad memory and shame. He says to Mary Magdalene what might first seem cold and unkind:

Do not cling to me, but go tell the brothers that I am going forward to my Father and your Father, my God and your God. (John 20.17)

In other words, Come on! Come with me to a shared and bigger future together, much larger than any small love here—and much larger than any past hurts or failures!

How much we need such hope these days! The Risen Presence makes clear that there is never an open-ended future, unless one also hands over the always limiting and condemning past. The Risen Jesus allows us now to say Dag Hammarskjöld’s most quoted line, and perhaps this time to really mean it:

For all that has been, THANKS! For all that will be, YES!

This is where I step aside from Richard Rohr’s words and speak for myself.

When Jesus was raised, every bit of his life and death were raised too—the highs and the lows. His healing miracles, his teaching, his welcome of sinners; his tears, his rejection, his suffering. All were raised, in the resurrection body which still had scarred hands, feet and side.

When we are raised with Christ, it’s not just our joys that are raised. We don’t slough off our sorrows like a snakeskin. Our sorrows are raised too, and transformed into something redemptive.

What about our sins—are they raised too? No. Jesus dealt with our sins on the cross. We leave them behind, even as we offer the scars to God for transformation. We are forgiven, and we are presently being made whole through the healing work of the Spirit within us.

Jesus sends us forward into our future, without any baggage from the past. I need to say I’m still discovering this truth; it’s a journey. But it’s the journey I am fully committed to, a journey to an open-ended future, in which I must hand over my limiting and condemning past. Then I too can sincerely say with Dag Hammarskjöld:

For all that has been, THANKS! For all that will be, YES!

Amen. Alleluia!

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2 Comments

Filed under church year, RCL, sermon

2 responses to “Easter Vigil (Year A, 23 April 2011)

  1. Steven

    In John 20.17, which you quote, why does Jesus refer to God as “my God”? Surely, if Jesus is God, He does not have a God!

  2. A good question… As I enter into the story, I see that Jesus is fully human—so he says “My God”. He has brought humanity up to the Godhead in Resurrection; and he says “your God” because he is inviting Mary to share in the life he has always enjoyed with the Father and the Holy Spirit as the eternal Son.

    I hope this helps; happy to try again.

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