We must be careful not to be stuck at the foot of the cross. When we have had a good Lent, it would have been intense in its discipline and focus. Easter comes with immense joy, and at the same time a relief for our human self. We are more relaxed, and we should be, but almost immediately we must reclaim the discipline to dwell in the fifty days of the Easter season, to try to encounter the Risen Christ in our personal life as when tomorrow comes, our worldly life will continue its course through the ups and downs.
Mystagogy, going deeper into the mysteries, is the final stage of the RCIA spanning the Easter season when the newly baptised are not instructed, but journeyed with to experience the mysteries of our sacramental life brought into the reality of our worldly, secular life. In the Easter season, Jesus is often presented to us as the Risen Christ who accompanies us through our ups and downs. But often many newly baptised, so relieved in achieving their baptismal goal would stop coming.
This can apply to us too. We let Easter go more quickly than we think. We must guard against looking at Easter as a one-day event, otherwise we will always be stuck at the foot of the cross. When the inevitable challenges and sufferings come, the Risen Christ is in those realities to encounter us. When we go through crisis, we feel abandoned, alone and left behind. We feel like being in an empty tomb in which there is nothing.
“Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed”. (Today’s Gospel). John entered the empty tomb and saw nothing. In that nothingness he saw everything, The Risen Christ.
In these fifty days we must re-visit the empty tombs of our past. Move the stone away, they were never empty. We can retrace the stories of our life. We find cursed episodes to look at in the Easter light. We will find some that have become blessings in disguise. Others will be getting there. Even today if you are in a dark tomb, you can find evidence from past episodes to embrace the Risen Christ walking with you. Life is not easy, and for this reason He is risen to journey her with you and me. Our tombs are never empty. There is always a presence.
We each have our own empty tomb experiences in our life. For most we want to leave them alone. It is time to move the stone away to find not just healing but that the Risen Christ truly walks with us. This is Easter in the most personal and intimate way.
My own empty tomb experience was my own Good Friday moment when I lost my job unjustly years ago. It does not matter if my employer felt justified as I was left to deal with my own raw emotions. I was first angry and without finding any redress became bitter. In that dark tomb, it eventually became unforgiveness. Meanwhile outside my tomb I was unable to appreciate fully my new and wonderful environment. I was stuck at the foot of the cross, subconsciously choosing to continue suffering until I was guided to move that stone and began to see how my life has since been one full of blessings. You too, if you have not, can experience this resurrection in your own life.
When bad things happen to us, we first descend into a mist of anger. It is likely that we can also be angry with God. We can remain angry a long time and allow this anger to move us away from God and church. In that tomb, we think it became unbelief. But often it is not unbelief but simply because we are human. We must recognize that it is our bad temper, wounded pride or unbearable pain that need to be addressed. Because in a mist, we cannot see the emptiness that tells a story.
This is Easter. It is a time to build hope and faith. It is a time to share about our sightings of the Risen Christ. A time to tell, a time to witness. A time to appreciate that life is full of ups and downs but with the Risen Christ we will always be on the up.
Easter Sunday – The Resurrection of Our Lord