At this time for our world where the virus seems to be in control of our lives it is of immense importance, as Christians, to focus on the message to the women at the tomb.
Do not be afraid; Peace be with you; and ‘before them into Galilee’.
Do not be afraid.
We, as followers of the Risen Christ, have an essential message to live and, when we are able to again, to share. Although at the moment, where we are having to stay isolated and separate from loved ones, friends and our normal life it can be so easy to lose heart and to become despondent it is central to our faith that this virus does not have the last word. Even to those who have died, alone and without family near, the message is ‘Do not be afraid’. This Feast tells us that the last time you spoke with your loved one is not the last time, the last time you hugged or embraced your loved one, that is not the last time. Sorrow, Sadness, Grief – they are inevitable and understandable words here, but they are not the last words.
The Lord’s earthly life is bracketed, topped and tailed with the words ‘Fear not’. The Angels at the Annunciation, the Angels at the Resurrection. They are the punctuation, you could say, of the story of Jesus. They are the divinely sent words that wrap around His life, the embrace of God.
Peace be with you.
This is not a peace that the world gives, we know. It’s more, so much more. It’s a realization that no matter what happens, War, Disease, Famine, Isolation. Stress, Insecurity, the Peace of God is still there. Those words are powerful and we cannot pretend they do not unnerve and terrify and it would be ridiculous to claim that they do not but they are not the words upon which God wants us to build our life. They are shaky, unnerving and undermining words. If we build our vision of the world on these then all will fall but we are being offered something impregnable and lasting. Those other things may well happen and they may well frighten and sadden but we do not need to allow them to be the basis for our lives. His peace is gentle, His peace is all encompassing, His peace is also the rock upon which are futures can be secure.
‘He goes before you into Galilee’
Galilee is a big place, where in Galilee ? Perhaps Galilee can be seen as representative of something. For the Apostles it would have been the scene of some of Jesus’ greatest triumphs although also it was the scene of some of his biggest struggles. (After all they did try to throw him off a cliff in Capernaum). It was where they were most themselves.
Perhaps He goes before them into Galilee to the place where they will face reality – not run away or skulk in an attic but in Galilee they can recapture and reinvigorate the people they had been. The Lord does this time and again in His ministry, giving people time to recapture the humanity they are in danger of losing. He is awaiting them where He has always been.
He does not demand they change, He asks only that they allow Him to change them. He does not demand shame and self hate which serves no purpose, He asks only that they face up to who they are and who they could become. It’s in this ‘facing’ that He is able to encounter them and help them to grow.
It is always fascinating to me that Jesus, after the Resurrection is never recognized until He does something they remember. He is the New Life, transformed and resurrected but He is still their Jesus. Resurrection does not destroy what was, it enhances and transforms it.
Galilee, in which the Lord waits, is who I am. He waits in my reality, He does not ask of me the impossible. He only asks me to meet Him as myself, not the person I would like to be, not the person I pretend to be.
Resurrected Life is our future but the journey, we’re on it now. Alleluia, He is Risen.