A friend of mine with a wife and six kids had his esophagus removed a week ago because of a tumor that had grown for many years. You thought you had problems. And in the hospital after the surgery the nurses were calling him “tangled” due to the amount of drains and IV’s that were attached to him for the first few days after the operation. It is a description that can be used for all of us these days: tangled, in our worries, fears, concerns, sins. Even though we have fewer things to do in our isolation it takes us much longer since it all seems so new. We are tangled in our sins and our worries. However, Christ comes this Easter to free us and lift us up, to be one like him.
I like the image of the bee holding a small pebble when it is windy from St. Francis de Sales. What are we holding onto these days to prevent us from being tossed about? Is it the rock of Jesus Christ or something much less firm? This enormous event of the resurrection should be the only thing that matters now. Death has been overcome and we ought not to fear anything. Hold onto the rock of Christ, spend some time with him today, read the gospel again or a spiritual book on a saint and you will have peace.
Tatyana Goritcheva as a young Marxist philosopher in Russia was advised only to do things that would get her ahead, help her to be cleverer, stronger, and more capable. Never did anyone tell her the highest thing in life does not lie in surpassing and defeating others but in loving. One day, praying the Our Father, she experienced a new birth and perceived a totally new insight and it overturned everything she knew. She sensed that it was “not my laughable intellect but with my whole being I knew that God existed.” This is a true and verifiable insight, not an attitude of a spectator. She experienced the power of God.
St. Ignatius of Antioch who was sent into a lions den in Rome and refused to use any of his political connections to save his life, rather he wrote seven letters saying how he was looking forward to his death. He said Christianity is not a work of persuasion but of power. God surely gave him a lot of power that humanly speaking made no sense.
How can we get such strength? Cardinal Ratzinger said years ago that this kind of faith comes from being on a way, living the Word of God as a way of life so that faith can be experienced in one’s own reality. We need a place to practice it and to do it. A doctor should not only study his books. He must have a deep knowledge of his patients if he or she is to help them. Faith is not something intellectual. It is much more encompassing than knowledge; it needs to be an experience that grows with us and impacts us daily.
The gospel of Matthew proclaimed at the vigil (28: 1-10) makes a very simple point. The angel tells the holy women, “Come and see the place where he lay.” No one saw the resurrection, only the empty tomb with the burial cloths still rolled up like a cocoon and empty. The Lord also invites us to “come and see” what a difference he can make for us. And then we will “go and tell others” as these holy women did.
It is not by chance that they were the first ones to see the Risen Christ. And they had no fear of contagion and kissed his feet and probably his wounds. Reflect on what happened that morning and how the Risen Lord appeared to them and later to the apostles. It can help us not to be afraid and to have the joy of the Resurrection!