Easter Vigil 2022
Alleluia, Christ is risen! (response: The Lord is risen indeed, alleluia!)
“Alleluia”! (literally, in the Hebrew: "All hail to Him Who is!")
The One Who is, eternal, Whom no one and nothing can suppress.
Now, some of you may not particularly feel like singing Alleluia, because
emotionally disconnected, tired, confused, indifferent, sad, angry, unworthy…
Thankfully, we gather and are connected deeper than feeling, as people of faith,
people graced to touch the Eternal One Who is beyond emotional grasp,
closer and more real and more steadily present, however, than any emotion.
We cannot prove Christ’s resurrection.
Sure, there are testimonies, but they are always a matter of faith, not proof.
We believe in Christ. We believe Christ. We believe Christ is risen.
Our faith may, at times, seem overwhelmed by what we are feeling and fragile,
but it is still there and a little is all we need.
In this evening’s passage from the letter to the Romans,
Saint Paul declares, in faith, that the Risen Lord touches and changes us:
“Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,
so that we too might walk in newness of life…
Consider yourselves alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
The Christian Life: so touched and changed by the Risen Lord
that we are alive forever.
What is this force that animates Jesus in His victory over death,
and, by gracious gift, animates us, such that we live forever?
It is called divine love,
all-powerful, infinite love forever gushing forth from the heart of God.
is all-powerful, infinite love forever gushing forth from the heart of God.
Christ’s resurrection is thus the final victory over all that hinders love.
This gospel, from Luke 24, a gospel of perplexity and fear and amazement,
helps us as we seek to re-discover and participate in this victorious love.
What do we witness?
As their first act at early dawn, the women run to the tomb.
When he hears their testimony, Peter runs to the tomb.
Of course, initially, to the apostles, the words of the women “seemed an idle tale.”
It might be tempting to presume arrogant chauvinism, but remember the simple fact
that, for the apostles, like us, Christ’s resurrection is a matter of faith, not proof.
And Peter, after all, is rather quick to run, like the women.
Indeed, there is a lot of running—like little kids!
This is the Amazing Race!
Only, in this one, they all win, we all win!
There is an unusual moment, however: although moved by love to run
and understandably perplexed by “the stone rolled away from the tomb”,
in response to the “two men in dazzling clothes”, “the women were terrified.”
Of what are these loving women afraid?
Jesuit priest, John Topel, in a 2012 article, “What Were the Women Afraid Of?”
says that one thing they may be afraid of is “…the disciples’ need to surrender
to a divine holiness that empowers life in the new age.”
Although desirous, and singing “alleluia” in faith,
we too may also find ourselves strangely afraid, afraid of the bigness of life in Christ.
I often am. I am often trying to tame Jesus, to barter, to justify and excuse myself:
rather small-minded and small-hearted.
Then Jesus, in His patient kindness, as He does the women in Matthew’s gospel, says
“do not be afraid.”
The Risen Lord touches our hearts unconditionally.
Jesus makes this gifted life possible.
In response, let us, by choice in faith, not by feeling,
like Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, the other women—Peter,
run to Jesus with hopeful desire and joyful haste.
We have every reason to rejoice.
If death has not stopped Christ, none of our challenges will.
As contemporary theologian, Reba McEntire (country singer from Oklahoma!), says,
“Easter is very important to me, it’s a second chance.”
 (Journal of Theological Interpretation, Vol. 6, No. 1, Penn State University Press)