“He saw and he believed”. John saw an empty tomb. It was in nothingness that he saw something. We too will do well to search in the emptiness of our life, in our losses and our brokenness. In these nothingness he is present. This has been the experience of our faith. “Why look among the dead for someone who is alive?” Why do we continue to look for him in “the things that are on earth”? We have been told countless times that He is not there.
The Easter liturgy is very rich. And there are many readings to ponder that can map the journey ahead for us. New life, new life. It remains only a promise until we embrace it by getting rid “of all the old yeast” and make ourselves “into a completely new batch of bread”.
We are also called to have yeast-like effects on the people we meet on our path in life. A common thread runs through the many readings. There is excitement causing the people to run and share what they have witnessed. Searching deep into ourselves we too will find many accounts of our encounters when “our hearts burn within us”. We are “all the prophets to bear this witness”. It is my privilege today to be vulnerable and humble to share an account from a personal chapter in my life about the woman who handed me my faith and taught me how to love.
It took her 5 days to journey through the passage of death to get on to the other side of life. She had suffered 25 years of crippling pain from rheumatoid arthritis, each new day decreasing her mobility and increasing her pain. She sits still unable even to scratch an itch away, patient with time as her only help to take it away. Yet she wore a brave smile, never once complaining, “Everything is in God’s hands”. She was my model of faith, my own ‘Mary’, her life a living lesson of “Christ must increase, I must decrease”.
It was on the fourth day that she said to me that it was difficult to die. Around her was her family grieving not ready to let her go. I asked if she wanted each to say a personal goodbye but she said not. She wanted the family to gather around to pray with her. At the end of the prayers she raised her crippled hand and waved. She only said two words, “Alleluia, Alleluia”. Not good bye, not thank you.
You see she had never uttered these words before. She never went to school, cannot write and was never conversant in Western languages. We wanted to be by her side, to pray more but she waved us away. She entered a physical state, groaning unintelligible sounds. She fell asleep and when we woke up at dawn she was gone. One of our wristwatches had unexplainably stopped while we slept. Did she leave us the time of her departure?
It took me awhile to comprehend, to see the something in the nothingness. At that final prayer she came face to face with her Creator which was when she proclaimed, “Alleluia! Alleluia!” following then no prayer was needed anymore. That moment her soul reached the afterlife of eternal life, leaving her physical body to pass away according to its earthly time-table. That day I experienced the truth of faith; the resurrection became convincingly real for me. I saw and I believed.
Happy Easter! May each of us experience the Risen Christ on the paths we travel in life. May our eyes be opened to recognize Him!