Easter Sunday (2014)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA
one sees him rise. The grave stone is rolled away. His tomb is empty.
The burial shroud neatly folded and left behind. Our Lord is nowhere
to be found. Mary Magdala finds all this, evidence of theft, evidence
of sacrilege and runs to Simon Peter, reporting, “They have taken
the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”
Mary did not see him rise. Neither did Simon Peter nor John the
beloved disciple. No one sees him rise. No one who visits the tomb
that morning knows what happened. Why? Because “they did not yet
understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” He had
to rise from the dead. And because he emptied his tomb that morning,
rising to new life with the Father, we too are raised to new life.
His resurrection from an ignominious death gathers us all up and
treats us to the possibility, the promise of deathless lives lived in
the unfiltered presence of God the Father Himself. And so, Paul
declares, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above.
. .Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” Seek what is
above, and ask yourself: where have I put Christ?
is Christ? Mary finds the tomb empty. Peter and John find the tomb
empty. Their Lord's body is missing, and they do not know where the
grave robbers have taken him. These three disciples believe that
Jesus' body has been stolen b/c they do no understand – yet –
that he had to rise from the dead. Do we understand this any better?
We do, but then we have a 2,000 year advantage: centuries of personal
testimony, libraries jammed with theological treatises, the
sanctifying assistance of the Holy Spirit, the magisterium of the
Church. We certainly understand the resurrection better than Mary,
Peter, and John did back then. But understanding is not believing.
Understanding is not trusting. When we believe in someone, trust
someone that someone becomes for us the measure and means of how we
live. Not just the center but the very foundation, the whole
structure of our being. Knowing this, Paul writes, “If then you
were raised with Christ, seek what is above. . .” If you truly seek
what is above, then you can answer the question: where have you put
Christ? Where is he in your life? Have you set him aside as a
decoration? An observer? Have you placed him on a shelf to be seen
but not heard? If we believe in, trust in the Risen Lord, he must be
more than a necklace charm, more than a dashboard saint. He must be
the Lord of our lives. The means and measure of our everyday
thoughts, words, and deeds. Everything we have and are is his and his
does all this mean? The resurrection is all about new life, new
beginnings, a fresh start in an old world eaten through with
corruption and bitter disobedience. The resurrection is all about
leaving behind our old ways and taking up The Way in Christ,
following after him toward the perfection of holiness. Yes, all of
that. But more. Much, much more. You see, if you believe in, trust in
the Risen Lord; if you give everything you are and everything you
have back to him for his use in bringing the Kingdom to fruition; if
you follow him, sacrificing for love of him and giving that love a
body and soul in this world; then, you become Christ. Not just a
follower. Not just an attendee. You fulfill your baptismal vows and
become Christ. Paul says it, “For you have died [in baptism], and
your life is hidden with Christ in God.” To hide your life in the
life of Christ means that you have placed Christ above you, over you,
hiding within his life so that yours is indistinguishable from his.
The resurrection makes it possible for us to hide in Christ. Our
human nature is made new in the resurrection. We have joined him in
death, now we can join him in life eternal.
promise – eternal life – is our Easter promise. We hide our lives
in Christ so that his work is our work, his mind is our mind, his
body is our body. In faith, we are bound to him. So much so that Paul
says, “When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with
him in glory.” But to be bound to him takes more than
understanding. It takes much more than just knowing the story of the
resurrection, knowing the details of the tale. The resurrection gives
us the authority and the power to act, to speak, to think with the
heart and mind of our Risen Lord. Until he comes again, we are his
Body. Until he comes again, we are his hands and feet. We are not
Pilate, fidgeting over politics, making carefully crafted decisions
with an eye on our reputations. We are not the crowd in Jerusalem,
frothing for blood and easy victory. We are not the Roman soldiers at
Golgotha, just obeying lawful orders. And neither are we Mary, Peter,
or John, despairing at the loss of Christ b/c we do not yet
understand. We know what has happened. We know what is happening.
Christ is risen. With the Father, he lives. In his Church, he lives.
And if we hide ourselves in his risen life, he lives in this world.
No one sees him rise. But everyone is watching to see if his Church
will rise. Show the world the Risen Christ. In your words and deeds,
show them Christ!
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