9 April, 2023
Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!
This is the greeting we give each other on Easter morning. We’ve walked through the sombre spaces of Holy Week, remembering the Last Supper gathering and then the horror of Good Friday. We’ve sat in the space of Easter Saturday and emerged with the certainty of abundant life as promised to us by Jesus.
When all the powers of the world said “no” and when all the hopes and dreams of the few followers Jesus left behind ended in “no”, it takes God to turn things around with the acclamation of “yes” given through an empty tomb and the risen Jesus.
The Easter story is a story of God’s “yes” in the face of all that denies, impoverishes, knocks down, strikes out, ridicules, and shackles. Easter Day is God’s response to the bleak, harrowing abandonment of Good Friday. In truth, one without the other is a diminution. They have to exist together. Here the faithfulness of Jesus, his life of sacrifice to the Way of God, and his final moments of appeal are affirmed.
There is a temptation for us to see Easter Day as always being the end point, taken for granted, a sure thing about which there could never have been any doubt. To do so is not to take Good Friday seriously. On the other hand, to wallow in the sorrow and despair of the events of Good Friday is to become hooked by the huge question that Jesus’ perception of abandonment leaves us without allowing space for God’s response to break through the gloom and grief.
For Matthew it is likely that the resurrection of Jesus is recounted with an understanding that this is part of something new for all creation, a new time, and something involving the resurrection of all that had gone before. But Matthew does not deign to describe in detail what happened, the encounter between the risen Lord and the two Mary’s is sparse in the extreme. This is no doubt deliberate. For this mysterious event is not written as a legal defence of the miracle of resurrection (using women as witnesses within the cultural setting of that day makes that clear), it is a faith story of an event that has no explanation other than to those who already trust God.
In this way, today is simply a day to celebrate the wondrous “yes” of God despite all that the world tries to do to stifle that affirmation. This resurrection, this new life, this coming of the kingdom brings with it the abundant life that we have been promised. Let us not forget that but live into it every day.