Saturday in the Octave of Easter
Mark’s resurrection account summarizes many of the events we have pondered over the past week: the appearance first to Mary Magdalene, to the two companions on the road. Again, it was a hard heart that prevented them from believing; they would not love unless their trust was assuaged by their sight. When Jesus appears at table it is almost as if He were saying, “It looks as though I must do this myself.”
In addition to their hard hearts Jesus rebukes them for something else, something for which we also might be rebuked: for not believing those who saw Him after He had been raised. We hear, week after week, the testimony of those who knew God, who knew Christ, who witnessed incredible things. Do we believe them? Very few Christians, even the most skeptical, are likely to say that the writers of scripture were liars, but it is easy for us to entertain the idea that perhaps the stories are not true in the sense of fact, as we might read in a newspaper. Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
Look to the fruits of His resurrection, the results of His command to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” What remains of the great Roman Empire and her pagan pantheon? Ruins; her language and vestiges of her customs remain only in the Catholic Church. Her emperors? Bones; yet there is still a successor of Peter in the Eternal City. What has come of that handful of simple folk from ancient Palestine who claimed a man who was God had died and returned from the dead? Nearly two-thirds of the world’s population calls Him “Lord.” While we cannot call the world or, really, any particular nation within it “Christian,” it is clear that much of the world has been shaped by Christian hands, has risen by a Christian leaven. Cities are named after Christian saints; some of the world’s greatest buildings and works of art were inspired and fashioned by Christians. The whole world has heard of what took place that strange day one-thousand nine-hundred and eighty-three years ago, and still it shakes our reality. Let us not allow that echo to fade away, nor the world become complacent, such that the tremors of the tomb’s door hitting the earth no longer cause it to quake in awe!
The grave is empty, the shroud is cast aside. Christ is risen, alleluia!