Why seek ye the living among the dead?

1 April 2018

Easter, the Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord, commemorates Jesus’ women disciples’ pilgrimage to the tomb to anoint Jesus (belatedly) for burial. Shockingly, frighteningly, Jesus was not there! Truly a more terrible “April Fool’s” joke is difficult to imagine. They arose early on this first day of the new week, hoping to process their grief and perhaps derive some small comfort by offering this last farewell, treating Jesus’ body with the veneration and respect it deserved. (After all, what else does one do when there’s really nothing else one can do?) Instead, all their poignant hopes thwarted; they are confronted with the Divine challenge: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here but is risen” (Luke 24:5–6a).

resurrection

Although the women had arisen early, the rising sun broke more than the day: the bonds of death; the apparent victory of perjury, vice, and misery; the pervasive injustice of unbridled Empire—the rising of the Christ revealed the brokenness of all these as well.

The resurrection proclamation highlights God’s salvific action in Jesus Christ, but that action is not a past event to which Christians return nostalgically once each year. Indeed, if that were the case, we truly would be April fools (cf. 1 Cor 15:12–20). “Resurrection” is the Divine proclamation that the words and deeds of Jesus were true, not false; that Jesus’ testimony for God and about God’s pervasive mercy was true, not false; that Jesus’ witness to an overweening desire for justice for the downtrodden and marginalized truly did lay bare the heart of the G*d of Israel facing down human structures of oppression and exploitation. Proclaiming the Resurrection means making a claim about reality itself, taking a stance in the on-going yet victorious struggle to restore the cosmos to harmonious relationship with Divine justice. Jewish tradition speaks of tikkun olam (“repairing the world”) as the vocation of believers. In proclaiming resurrection, Christian tradition focuses on already-but-not-yet reality of Divine fulfillment of this vocation. Both traditions are grounded in the pervasive and irrevocable love of the Holy One for the Creation, in the Easter Proclamation figured as the victory of Life over death.

Easter certainly celebrates the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. At least as importantly, Easter solemnizes the Divine proclamation that Resurrection is the last word in the struggle of the forces of love and life against the forces of death. Resurrection happened, yes, but resurrection happens. Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!

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The Bible According to McGinn

People, places, and other points of interest relating to the Biblical texts

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