Sunday, April 17, 2022

Between Instantaneous & Gradual

Easter Sunday
(Mass During the Day)

Readings: Acts 10:34,37-43; Psalm 117 (118): 1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-9

Picture: cc Krista

My dear friends, what’s the difference between the instantaneous and the gradual? As you know, it’s all about duration. The instantaneous occurs in a flash. The gradual takes longer. And even if something happens instantaneously, its effects may still be felt only gradually. For example, have you ever polished off a delicious bowl of super spicy curry in the day, only to feel the full explosive effects later that night?

Similarly, although the scriptures don’t tell us exactly, we may imagine that the Resurrection took place instantaneously. In a flash, the stone is rolled away, the Lord escapes the bonds of death, and reconciles the world to God, once and for all. And yet, when we ponder what the scriptures do tell us, we see that even if the Resurrection may have happened instantaneously, its full effects are felt only very gradually.

In the nine verses of that short gospel passage that we heard earlier, the word saw occurs no less than four times. And each time, seeing happens differently. When Mary of Magdala saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb, she is still tightly wrapped in the darkness of grief. Anxiously, she runs to seek help. Then when the beloved disciple and Simon Peter each saw the state of the burial cloths, especially how one was neatly rolled up in a place by itself, we’re not told their exact feelings. But it’s clear that something is happening within them. They are not as anxious as Mary was. The reading ends with the beloved disciple entering the empty tomb. He saw and he believed. Gradually, he comes to understand… that (Jesus) must rise from the dead.

In the first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, we find Peter bravely bearing witness to Jesus’ Life, Death and Resurrection. And it’s important to consider not just what Peter is doing, but also where and why. Peter has gone into a gentile’s house, which is forbidden for a Jew. And he does it because he had earlier seen a vision from God, telling him that he should stop making distinctions between clean and unclean people. Even some time after Peter’s visit to the Empty Tomb, the effects of the Resurrection continue to unfold, guiding the Church towards ongoing renewal.

Isn’t this such a consoling thought? That as confused and anxious, as burdened and discouraged as I sometimes may be, it always remains possible for me – for us – to experience anew the power of the Resurrection. Perhaps this is why Easter lasts even longer than Lent. It’s so that we have ample time to learn what the second reading encourages us to do. To keep pondering the events of this earthly life, always in the light of heavenly things. And we do this not just by stubbornly soldiering on alone, amid grief and pain, but also by coming together, as we are doing now, to share our struggles, and to experience again the power of the Crucified and Risen Lord.

Sisters and brothers, perhaps more welcome than the fearsome results of spicy curry, but no less explosive, the Resurrection is often felt only very gradually. What must we do to better experience its powerful effects this Easter?

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