I have seen the Lord! What a testimony! What wouldn’t we give to be able to say those words? And yet, Mary was greeted with disbelief. No one expected Jesus to rise from the dead. In fact, one of the common elements of the resurrection stories across the gospels is that NO ONE expects the resurrection. Even though Jesus predicted his death … and resurrection … several times across his ministry, no one greets the news that God has raised Jesus from the grave and defeated death and the devil by saying, “Praise God!” No one shouts “Hallelujah” when they hear that their friend and Lord has been raised to life. And absolutely no one, upon hearing the news that death itself could not hold the Lord of Glory captive, says, “I knew it – just like he said!”
How often do we do the same? We, like the disciples, actually deny the resurrection. How so you ask? We actually deny the resurrection every time we talk poorly about someone, refuse to serve our neighbor, refuse eye contact with someone who is different, fail to smile at a stranger…..every time we lose our patience, get frustrated when someone doesn’t get what we’re saying right off the bat, every time we act with less than love.
That’s right – we do that.
However, like the disciples, we can change that. In the Resurrection Story, no one expects the resurrection and no one, quite frankly, believes it at first. This is true, as I said, across the gospels, and it is certainly apparent in Luke. The women come to the tomb expecting to anoint Jesus’ dead body. That is, they have no expectation that he has been raise. In fact, only when they are reminded by the “two men in dazzling clothes,” do they recall Jesus’ promise.
Energized by this encounter, they run back to tell the rest of the disciples … who greet their tale with utter skepticism. In fact, Luke says that those who received the testimony of the women regarded their message as an “idle tale.” That’s actually a fairly generous translation of the Greek work leros. That word, you see, is the root of our word “delirious.” So in short, they thought what the women said was crazy, nuts, utter nonsense.
Resurrection, in other words, throws off the balance, upsets the apple cart, and generally turns our neat and orderly lives totally out of whack. Which is why I think that if you don’t find resurrection at least a little hard to believe, you probably aren’t taking it very seriously! And, truth be told, I suspect that’s where most of us – we’ve heard the story of resurrection so often it hardly makes us blink, let alone shake with wonder and surprise. Which is rather sad, when you think about it, because this promise, as difficult as it may be to believe initially, is huge, and when it sinks in and lays hold of you, absolutely everything looks a little different.
And isn’t seeing the world a little differently what being a Christian is all about? The prayer often attributed to St. Francis sums it up nicely:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Like the disciples, like the women at the tomb, let us proclaim the resurrection by living our lives so that others see that we are, in reality, living the fact that the Lord is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed!