A New Easter
In the gospels reporting the death and resurrection of Galilee’s Teacher, Jesus, time is telescoped into three acts. Act One: Friday he dies, and just before sunset his limp body is buried. Act Two: Saturday is the day he is entombed. Act Three: Sunrise on Sunday his disciples find his tomb empty and exclaim, “He has been raised!”
The first written account of Jesus’ life is Mark’s Gospel which in its original text ends with a mystery: the tomb of the dead Jesus is found empty! In another gospel, that of Luke, a clue is given to this mystery of the empty tomb in a unique promise of Jesus. Dying on his cross he turns to the kindhearted rebel prisoner being executed next to him and says, “This day you will be with me in paradise.”
Since childhood we have seen countless images of the Easter Risen Jesus coming forth out of his cave tomb. Later additions to Mark’s Gospel, along with other Gospels, report sightings of the Risen Jesus that solves the mystery. Yet, let’s return to his extraordinary promise to the rebel dying near to him as we prayerfully ponder the possibility of yet another account— the Easter Gospel.
The Easter Gospel begins shortly after the dying Jesus’ promise to the rebel, when total darkness covers Jerusalem and the earth, as Jesus breathes his last breath on the cross. Instantaneously, his dead limp body explodes into a blinding blaze of light. From him a luminous tsunami streaks outward filling all the earth, then races upward into the billions of shimmering stars and on into the hundreds of billions of galaxies, then outward beyond them into an ever-expanding universe.
Witnesses report that those with Easter eyes now see every yellow flower as a saint abloom with the Risen One. They see all rivers shimmering with a sacred brilliance, and ordinary shrubs and bushes ablaze, and every animal, small or large is haloed as blessed. Stunningly, each of us discovers that we have been Easter-Canonized as saints, more alive now than ever before. Easter’s challenge is to see all things as new and to daily respond accordingly to the wonder of being incorporated into that Easter Cosmic Event.