You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
“No one’s ever really gone.”
Luke Skywalker, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer
What does it take to believe and testify? Maybe…
Today we celebrate and participate in what is possible only for God.
In the second reading, from Paul’s letter to the Colossians we hear, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Paul reminds us that we too, join in Jesus’ journey through death and into new life. On Good Friday, Jesus’ life ended. He was brutally killed via crucifixion. Jesus’ story ended. There would be no more parables, no more miracles, no more shared meals. Jesus’ body was prepared for burial and hidden away with God in the tomb.
Our lives have brought us our through our own stories of death and loss. We can all make our lists. My short list includes cancer, divorce, professional chaos and three years in the belly of the whale of the Vatican on behalf of the Obama administration. But these lists, these stories, do not define us. Karl Rahner does well to remind us in a homily that, “Whatever can be taken from you is not God.”
If Paul is correct, that we have died with Christ in Baptism and are hidden away with God, then perhaps, during our Lenten journeys, we recognized that in some way we have died with Christ. Maybe we too, were hidden away in the tomb with Christ in God.
I wonder sometimes if the women who prepared Jesus’ body for burial struggled to leave him in the tomb alone. Did they want to stay with him and accompany him through his darkest night? Would we stay, thinking that the story was over and that it had ended in failure?
Maybe if we imagined being in the tomb with the battered, dead body of our Lord; maybe if we let ourselves feel the touch of the desire and courage to accompany him even there, maybe then we would sense what it is to love our neighbor. Maybe then we would recognize that even in that tomb, we would not be alone. Maybe we would sense God’s compassionate peace. Maybe we would know in our tombs, that we are not alone. Maybe we would know that while we have stories, we are not limited by our stories.
God accompanies us through the most painful, unthinkable, confusing times in our lives. And God strengthens us to break through to new life. Resurrection happened in the night. Resurrection happened amidst the darkness. Jesus broke open the tomb sealed by a stone to new life, just like a seed under the concrete finds a way through the tiniest crack to blossom. Jesus showed us that he was more than his earthly story. We may have died to sin and we will die a human death as Jesus someday, but our lives, our very bodies and souls are enclosed in Christ with God, and so we will live. We can accept and say “yes” to death, because we have been shown that God will say “no” to it.
Would you believe me, a woman, if I told you that Jesus has risen?
Maybe if we could perceive resurrection in our own lives, then we would believe. Maybe if we understood that following Christ meant figuring out how to break out of our own tombs via the Spirit within us and with Jesus by our side, then we would believe. Maybe then we would testify to the resurrection and worry less about who went into the tomb first. Maybe then people would believe the woman who said that Jesus had risen from the dead to new life.
May God in the Spirit bring new life to our personal, social and ecclesial bodies during this Easter season. I believe and testify. Do you?