HOMILY: Mark 16: 1- 8

The Risen Lord Jesus

DO NOT BE ALARMED. YOU ARE SEEKING JESUS OF NAZARETH WHO WAS CRUCIFIED. HE IS RISEN; HE IS NOT HERE. The Gospels repeatedly surprise us by turning our expectations upside down. This is nowhere more the case than in this concise announcement of the resurrection. The most momentous message ever transmitted is stated in the simplest of terms, no elaborations, no dramatics. On the contrary, the recipients are told to take this news calmly- advice which proves unable to reassure them. The Crucified One lives; death yields to life, not the other way round, as had always been the case until then. That this event is proclaimed to women rather than to the chosen circle of apostles is another of the unexpected elements of this account. Finally, there is the fact that the women, at first, prove to be unequal to the charge they are given to transmit the news to the apostles. Rather, filled with fear and astonishment they fled quickly from the tomb, saying nothing to anyone. Surprisingly , we can be disarmed as much by good news as by bad, experience shows us, when it involves a supernatural experience. Both, when sufficiently intense, find us unprepared to respond appropriately; they carry us out of ourselves in panic, instilling a sense of alarm at finding ourselves in circumstances totally unfamiliar. If ever there was good news capable of producing such effect this surely was the instance. Accounts of this announcement in the three other Gospels agree with this one in that the women are at first startled, but do not portray them as keeping the story to themselves. Evidently, this was their first reaction but Mark would not have known of it unless they related their experience at some point.

Their shock is itself a witness to the reality of their first contact, indirect as it was, with the mystery of the resurrection. They could not deny the factuality of the angelic encounter, yet to deal with the totally new world opened to them by the risen Savior was overwhelming to a point where they were unable to cope with the situation for a time. We ourselves are confronted with the same mystery at some point in time when we come to realize just what it means that our Lord, after dying on the cross in terrible agony, rose on the third day and offers us a share in the new life he now lives. Our faith is assisted by the witness of the apostles and so many others who have accepted the testimony they gave. Still, it requires a radical act of surrender to the light of the Spirit to accept with a living, trusting faith that Jesus, having died, now lives in glory and that our destiny finds it fulfillment in our being united with him in his glorified state.

Tonight as we commemorate these mysteries at this Easter Vigil this is the challenge posed to each of us. This Gospel presents us with the occasion to descend more deeply into the depths of our spirit where we confront the choice to open our heart to Christ who knocks at the door that we alone can open allowing him access to the deepest center of our person. He not only offers us the words of this announcement of his resurrection, but he comes to us in his risen state as our living Savior in the Eucharist we offer at the altar here. My we receive him with as radical and trusting a faith as we are capable of. We are assisted in this choice to enter the most secret and hidden places of our spirit by the faith and trust of those who are here with us and whose lives witness to their fidelity to our common Redeemer.

Christ Gives Life to the Dead

In order to take this decision in such a way that it leads to a fresh commitment to the Lord we must follow up day by day in the whole of our lives by striving to live out this communion with the one we receive in the sacrament. For this we need to review and revise our priorities frequently, every day to some extent, considering whether in practice we act in a way that is consistent with our most personal conviction that the Lord is risen and he lives and acts within me, in the Holy Spirit. In this way our Easter celebration attains to its intended purpose, namely, to transform each of us in the very center of our being, into children of God destined for life with God.. This transformation refashions our inmost attitudes and dispositions and in doing so unites us more firmly to one another in the measure that it joins us to the Lord Jesus in faith and love. This is the true meaning of Easter and the mystery that we commemorate at this liturgy. May we live from the grace of this celebration all the days of this coming Paschal season, and, throughout the rest of our lives. Such a way of life leads to fulfillment of our deepest aspirations in the kingdom of God, who calls us in Christ, to share in his light and life world without end.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

[abbey crest]

Abbey of the Genesee

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