Easter Sunday 2022 Preaching by Sister Carol Johannes, OP April 17, 2022 Acts 10:34a,37-43 Colossians 3:1-4 John 20:1-9 Together we celebrate this day which has changed everything, for Jesus and for us! As for Jesus, the resurrection is the complete fulfillment of his humanity. The Jesus of history has truly become the Christ of faith, the Cosmic Christ, who includes the whole sweep of creation and history joined with him, and us too. As for us, we have learned that we are members both of the Body of Christ and the Cosmic Christ. Contemporary theologians remind us that all of us take part in the evolving, universe-spanning Christ Mystery. In preparing for Chapter, we’ve been asking God for months to “awaken us to love,” as we strive to do our part to co-create the future; to make our contribution to a universe in evolution, always birthing love into greater unity, in the manner of Jesus of Nazareth. When we describe the mystery in these terms, we can easily be tempted to think of the resurrection experience of the followers of Jesus as a time of wild exaltation and triumph. Yet today’s gospel describes it as a staggering challenge that confronted the disciples upon their discovery of the empty tomb. Imagine Mary Magdalene approaching the tomb. We’re not told for sure, but she may have been intent upon ever so gently and tenderly anointing the body of Jesus, only to find it gone! What must have been her very visceral experience of this? I’m sure her heart began to race and her body tremble with confusion and terror, as she set out running breathlessly to inform Peter and “the other disciple’ whom we assume is John. Must she not have felt robbed of the opportunity to show her love one more time? Must she not have asked herself, why this last horror? Wasn’t it enough that the Romans executed her Master with consummate cruelty? And now this? When Peter and John receive her message, they too set out running. This passage is filled with small details that bring it to life for us, from John‘s deference to Peter, waiting for him to enter first, to the description of the burial cloths, rolled up in one instance and folded carefully in the other. Have you ever wondered who did this? Might it have been the angels? Or did Jesus do it himself? Not that it matters; it’s just a little homely detail. Finally we have the assertion that both the disciples entered the tomb, but the beloved disciple ‘saw and believed.’ What an incredible moment this must have been for him, and how his faith has nurtured ours for centuries. We all know the old maxim, “Seeing is believing.” But we also know that it isn’t necessarily true. Jesus knew this well, since throughout his public life, his preaching, his healing miracles, and even his raising the dead to life bore witness that he was truly the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Yet his opponents dismissed all of this and were without faith. This must have been not only sad, but incomprehensible to Jesus, as today it’s sad and incomprehensible to us, as we observe so many people confronted with proven facts who simply refuse to accept them as true. But the beloved disciple “saw and believed,” and through his belief and that of the earliest disciples of Jesus, the faith has been transmitted to us, so that we, without seeing, believe. Next we’re told, in a very flat, unadorned statement, “Then the disciples returned home.“ It can feel a little anti-climactic. But the story goes on, and we know of one person who did not return home. She remained in the garden weeping. As she wept, Mary Magdalen met a stranger, and when called by name, she recognized him in what may have been a record of the most ecstatic moment in salvation history. She probably would have loved to stay at the feet of Jesus pouring out her love for him forever, as any of us would have, and it may have been a little disconcerting to her to be charged with a mission and sent away immediately. However, Jesus entrusted her with the best news that appears on any of the pages of Scripture, or anywhere else, for that matter: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead; life has triumphed over death, good over evil, joy over sorrow, and God’s new creation has begun! This is what we believe. But sadly, it’s not what we experience right now. We need not enumerate all the terrible choices made, all the horrendous violence and injustice drenching the world in pain, to realize that we identify more with Jesus’ weeping over Jerusalem than his rising in triumph from the grave. We sing “Alleluias” yet may feel more at home with laments. Yet we cling to hope. Our deepest conviction is that the resurrection is real; God’s reign has begun, and some day it will be fully realized because Jesus is risen and alive among us in his Holy Spirit. This is what we hold to be true; this is the truth we are called to preach, in season and out of season. Poet Irene Zimmerman describes Easter hope ever so briefly this way: Death, that old snake skin, lies discarded at the garden-gate.* And so it does. Years ago, in my studies at Weston, we took a wonderful class in Christology from a German Jesuit named Joseph Sudbrack. Because his first language was German, his attempts at English were often amusing and sometimes really dear. And he would often assert, “We will always, always have hope, because Jesus stood up from the dead!” Perhaps to engender and sustain our hope, we might do well today to listen to the message of one of our minor prophets of hope, the prophet Habakkuk. In Chapter two, God speaks: Write down the vision … For it is a witness for the appointed time, a testimony to the end; it will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. (Habakkuk 2:2b-3) Some verses later, the prophet describes hope in agrarian terms, but it’s our hope, hope that is to endure, no matter what: For though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit appears on the vine, Though the yield of the olive fails And the terraces produce no nourishment, Though the flocks disappear from the fold and there is no herd in the stalls, Yet I will rejoice in the Lord and exult in my saving God. God, my Lord, is my strength; God makes my feet swift as those of deer and enables me to tread upon the heights. (Habakkuk 3:17-19) Indeed, “We will always, always have hope, because Jesus stood up from the dead!” *“Resurrection” from Incarnation: New and Selected Poems for Spiritual Reflection by Irene Zimmerman (Cowley Publications, 2007).