It was Sunday. Rumours began to circulate that he was alive. It seemed ‘sheer nonsense’ (Luke 24:11). Just women’s talk. But slowly the realisation dawned. There were too many reports. And now here he was ‘standing in the midst of them’ (Luke 24:36). They stood there ‘dumfounded’. ‘Their joy was so great they could not believe it.’
When they calmed down. they asked what it could all mean. This is going to change everything. This meant a new perspective, a new way of seeing. He had often cured those who could not see, most memorably the man born blind. That man had been a poor beggar but he had ended up a courageous witness before the Jews.
So they were convinced. Things don’t have to be the way they are. They can be changed, transformed. Life can be different, full of meaning, full of hope. There is nothing we cannot do. The only problem was, will we remember? Will this news wear off and we will return to our old ways? We will end up just like everyone else. The pressure to do what others are doing, to follow the trend, to go with the flow, will be too great. I am not strong enough to live this new life, to follow this new way.
Jesus knew that. Just as the crowds left him in the desert so there would be many among his followers who would slip back into the crowd and do what everyone else is doing. It was a challenge to hold on to the mystery. So he left them a memorial, a way not just of remembering him like an old photo, but something that would be his living presence among them, something that would be their daily food, that would sustain them when they feel crushed by the pressures of life. It would be a force within them that would give them strength each day, strength to endure the obstacles that would always be there. And not just to endure but to triumph, to come out smiling, to know a deep joy breaking into their lives. Not just at Easter but every day of the year and every year of their lives.
So he said, ‘Do this in memory of me’, meaning that whenever we do this he becomes present among us, giving us life, hope, joy, patience, peace – all the things we need, not just to survive but to blossom. The Eucharist holds together the forces of sacrifice and victory, of death and resurrection. As we visit the site of this mystery in our annual celebration, we want to hold together in our own life the experience we have of struggle and sacrifice with the joy of breaking through to victory.
Easter 4 April 2021 Acts 10:34-43 Col 3:1-4 Jn 20:1-9