This Easter will truly be a time to remember. No joyous Mass together with glorious music, no shouts of “Alleluia, Christ is risen!” with the responses of “Christ is risen, indeed, alleluia!” No first ringing of bells after our solemn Lent. No blessings of the fresh candles and consecration of new Sacrament. No children’s ‘unburying of the alleluias’ outside and flowering of the Cross.
As if to magnify the strangeness, the time of Vigil began with dark thunder- storms continuing Easter Day, to be followed by a Spring freezing spell. We celebrate today using the miracle of modern technology, in virtual format. But celebrate we do! Why? Because nothing now that the world, the flesh, and the devil can throw at us will ever attenuate our joy. As Saint Paul has written:
“For I am convinced that there is nothing in death or life, in the realm of spirits or superhuman powers, in the world as it is or the world as it shall be, in the forces of the universe, in heights or depths — nothing indeed in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 38-39, REB)
That is because salvation has come. Mary’s “Yes” that began this marvellous journey has ended in our God’s gracious “Yes” to humanity, reflected in the asseveration of Jesus by resurrection. He is risen and we are risen in Him! From now on, we see the world, we see everything, through new eyes.
Mother Joslyn Ogden Schafer calls this moving from Crucifixion Vision to Resurrection Vision. In our gospel reading from John 20, Mary Magdalene, like most of us most of the time, has crucifixion vision, from grief, trauma, low expectations. When the Resurrected Christ appears to her, she assumes he is the gardener and demands to know where Jesus’ corpse is, so she can fetch it. It is in the “call” –when the Lord’s names her and summons her — “Mary, Mary!” that the Magdalene can see with resurrection vision, can see her Lord living and leading again. Like her we too, at first, act as though sin and death have the final word, that the Dark Side will prevail, that if we went back to “good old days” that never really were, we would be fine. But the human condition remains. And in our culture we too often remain in crucifixion vision –motivated by fear and greed, always trying to rely on ourselves to save ourselves, convinced that real change is just not possible, “that’s just the way it is.” But Jesus has told us that is not true, a new world, the Kingdom of God, is possible. And he has assured us that real love casts out fear, and that love of neighbour is the only antidote to our personal and systemic greed. Otherwise we can never have or be “enough” and we just grow more empty all the time.
It is only radical trust in God that can move us to resurrection vision, so we can see the new life Christ has in store for us when we have the courage to change and the willingness to be open to God’s amazing surprises. Easter is proof that love wins. Be a winner with Jesus!