Homily – Easter Sunday, the 9th April 2023
Reading: Matthew 28:1-10
The meaningful journey through the Lent is giving way to the celebration of Easter. This time for our Lenten Studies on Dust and Glory we specifically focussed on the theme of “Failure” and asked the profound question- was cross the sign of failure. We looked at different manifestations of failure in our lives and we affirmed success is not exactly the opposite of failure but part of the journey.
We then came together for the Washing of the Feet and the reminder of the Last Supper meditating on what it means to love till the last. The Good Friday meditations on the seven verses from the cross took us through a myriad of meanings each of those verses could offer.
And today on Easter morning we reminded of
New Dawns Are Inevitable
Our text today begins thus- After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning….
Saturday has given way to Sunday
In his reflection titled “Saturday People” the renowned theologian and former staff of the World Council of Churches Stanley J. Samartha talks of the Saturday
Squeezed between Good Friday and Easter
Ignored by preachers and painters and poets,
Saturday lies cold and dark and silent –
An unbearable pause between death and life.
There are many Saturday people
to whom Easter does not come.
There are no angels to roll the stones away.
There are many Saturday people in the world today:
The prophets who lead the Saturday people
Die with them outside the promised land.
There is a Cross in every resurrection.
Is there a Resurrection in every cross?
The imagery of the dawning of the first day of the week, where the morning sun break into the mysteries of the darkness of the night, is deeply symbolic.
New Dawns Are Inevitable. Saturday night cannot go on for ever.
Some Stones Do Get Rolled Away
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.
Dazzling interventions of the Lord do happen
But do they always happen
Do all the stones get rolled away
As we have often heard this stone symbolised the shattered dreams of a people
All the hopes that they did weave around the Messiah were ruthlessly broken
All the aspirations around Jesus the person they think has been wrought to naught.
As Mary Magdalene walked to the tomb she should still have been sobbing,
But what they encounter is something dramatic
There is heavenly intervention
The Angel had rolled the stone Away
Yes the reminder that Easter gives us is this- Some stones, however heavy they are, will be rolled away at the right time.
Jesus is oft not where we thinks he is
But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.
Rabindra Nath Tagore, the Nobel Laureate, challenged religiosity profoundly when he wrote
Leave this chanting and singing and telling of beads!
Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut?
Open thine eyes and see thy God is not before thee!
He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground
and where the pathmaker is breaking stones.
He is with them in sun and in shower,
and his garment is covered with dust.
Put off thy holy mantle and even like him come down on the dusty soil!
There to meet with God.
Several others have found God experience meaningful in their most private spaces and some in the sacred spaces where they always thought God surely was.
The women had gone to see the dead body and they were told He is Risen
Encountering the Risen Lord requires fearlessness
It requires transcending the limitations of time and space and the constraints of logic. It calls for encounters with deeper possibilities of reason and the humility to accept that all that is not yet experienced is not real.
He is Not Here
Then Where is He?
The Risen One Need to be Sought and Found Afresh
That is the Easter Call.
He surely is not in the tomb where they tried to hole him up for ever
He is RISEN indeed.
Come and See
Come, see the place where he lay.
The angel invites the women to come and see the place where the body was laid and it was empty, save the linen that wrapped it.
Emptiness sometimes is a pointer to new and deeper possibilities.
What did the Empty Tomb mean
It meant Resurrection
It meant The Story is Not Over Yet
It meant New Beginnings
It meant a New Chapter
It meant a new community
It meant a new mission
When ever we think we have reached hard points in life- no way seen- remember Emptiness is profoundly also fullness.
We are told that social media has colonised what was once sacred space occupied by emptiness: that was the space once reserved for thought and creativity (Mahersahala)
We need to reclaim the deeper meaning of Empty spaces- sacred spaces.
Go and Tell
Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
The Resurrection story is not a story that could be silently cherished in secret chambers- it had to be shared. Every one of the Saturday people need to be told to come out of the despair and hopelessness because Jesus is Risen indeed.
This was not a call to the first women who encountered resurrection alone but to the entire church
Go and Tell- he has been raised from the dead
God and Tell- each of you will meet him soon.
What the church today should not miss out is the quickness, the fear and great joy the women had when they ran to tell his disciples of this exciting experience of resurrection.
Meet and Greet
Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Jesus meets the excited women on the road. He greets then and they come running to him, holding his feet they worshipped him and his assuring words remain- Do not be afraid.
The message of Easter as we encounter the Risen Lord is simple- Do not be afraid. Go tell the others that they will see him
Tell them that soon Resurrection would be each of their experience too.
The Three Questions
What is Easter for us?
I was particularly reminded of the Oscar Nominated movie- Women Talking, The women of the commune in Bolivia- brutally victimised and that was seen as a norm. When once the perpetrators were arrested- the victims were demanded to forgive the abusers . They met meet together and talks of the options- Forgive, Fight the Injustice, Or Leave the Commune-where their generations could live in safety. It is a very profound discussion.
After our meditation on Forgiveness yesterday I was asked- Asking a victim to hug the perpetrator and forgive- is it not violence in a new form?
How can there be forgiveness without Justice is the question raised
But Easter gives us a pointer through three questions
Is a new beginning breaking the shackles of death possible?.
Is a new beginning breaking the shackles of the past possible?.
Is a new beginning breaking the shackles of disbelief and faithlessness possible?
April 9, 2023