Monday, April 2, 2018

There is really nothing to be scared of. The tomb is empty.

The gift that Easter gives us is so astounding, but its symbols and metaphors are strangely varied.  Bunnies are cute and cuddly, and decorated eggs are attractive in some ways, and chocolate is always appealing.  These need to be unpacked and peeled away to arrive at what the essence of Easter really is, and what it does to us.  Otherwise, it will only be a time to stuff our bellies and leave our lives largely unchanged, with the only thing changing being our waistlines.

At the heart of all sins is the unwillingness to love, or to love inordinately, which is most of the time an overemphasis of loving the self.  The antithesis of love isn’t hatred, as many think it is, but fear.  We have a certain fear that is built into our human condition, and it results in us doing many things to harm ourselves and harm others as well.  When we fear that when others are loved and appreciated more, it means that we are loved and appreciated less.  We fear that when others are approved, it means that we are not.  On so many levels, we fear when we are humiliated, despised, and unnoticed by those who are in positions of power and have some influence or authority, and as a result, we try all means to jostle for fame, recognition and popularity, even being dishonest in the ways we attain our aims. 

When we come to this realization, it will then dawn on us that the greatest freedom that we can ever have in life is to be free from this fear.  It is the smart-bomb, if you will, to handle all of life’s challenges and anxieties.  But is there really such a ‘smart-bomb’?  What form does it come in? 

For us Christians, it comes in the form of the empty tomb and the Cross of Christ.   Theology explains it (or tries to) often in ways that are beyond the comprehension of the ordinary person on the street.  But I have come to see that the brilliance of sound and beautiful theology often do very little help us in our particular struggles and battles.  It is most likely for this very reason alone that there are countless lukewarm Christians who have not truly appreciated the power of the Resurrection.  Its power lies in the gift of fearlessness.

Imagine the kind of freedom we will have when we truly have nothing to be scared of in life.  It will mean that our happiness isn’t contingent and predicated on how much we are recognized by another human being, if the doctor gives us a clean bill of health, if our bank accounts are bulging or if we are praised and adulated.  When we are truly convinced that we are loved not only supremely but divinely by God, it will be well with us when we don’t get the positive appraisals by our fellowman.  Horatio G. Spafford must have had this in his heart and soul when he wrote “It is well with my soul” because he had literally lost everything in his life when his beloved wife and four children perished in the sea while crossing the Atlantic when their ship sank. 

We may not be as poetic and lyrically brilliant as Spafford in our own trials and anxieties in life, but we need his conviction that no matter what happens in our lives, as long as we believe in our hearts that God loves us, it is still well with our soul.  The Easter message of the empty tomb gives us this assurance.  It gives us a fearlessness to face all of life’s hardships, though it doesn’t take them away.  St Paul’s conviction of the power of the resurrection had him saying “death, where is your sting?”  It is a bold statement, but it is one which we need to be as bold to say when the going gets tough in life. 

From the day I first preached my first homily at Mass, I told myself that the people of God need to be reminded over and over again that God’s love for them is going to be the ultimate power for them to handle all of life’s challenges with aplomb and tenacity.  I have always ended my homilies with the phrase “God love you”.  I know I run the risk of sounding like a broken record, and that its power gets lost through overuse, but there is really no greater power to give us the freedom to live fearlessly.  How assuring it is to be told that in life, there is nothing to be scared of. 

The empty tomb of Easter holds this as its subtle power.  Happy Easter to all.  And God love you.

1 comment:

  1. I like your title for today’s post - “There is really nothing to be scared of. The tomb is empty.” - seems macabrely sinister. For it is precisely the Empty tomb that threw the Roman and Jewish authorities into a flummox, perhaps even scaring them out of their wits!

    Yet, strangely enough, to his disciples, ( and us ) - the empty tomb is as you said, not scary, but rather, I think -reassuring. For the empty tomb rekindles in their hearts (and ours ) - the fond hope that what He has foretold when He walked the earth with them and what was promised by God in the Scriptures has now come to pass.He is risen, the Messiah has come. God is faithful.

    Through the perfect obedience of His Son, who comes to live and die for love of us -we have been given another chance - a re-birth.......a newness of life, through His transforming grace. His empty tomb is thus our aspiring Hope that - if we but allow His resurrected Spirit to come and dwell within us - we too can over-come the deadly challenges of sin, pain, hardship and suffering.

    On further reflection, we can see this empty tomb and resurrection as pregnant reminders of His enduring love and mercy......thus echoing your words, “ ......when we are truly convinced that we are loved not only supremely but divinely by God -it is well with my soul.”

    Thank you Father. It’s refreshing !

    God bless you.