Easter Sunday, Year A

From Vincentian Encyclopedia
The darkness is passing, and the true light is already shining (1 Jn.2:8)

When Jesus was about to raise Lazarus, he ordered, “Take away the stone.” And Mary protested right away, so sure she was, I suppose, that there was no one deader than her brother. “Lord,” she pointed out, “by now there will be stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus then replied, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”

We are asked to believe even when we find ourselves in the dead of the night and in the darkness of death. We are instructed not to be afraid either when a cloud of suspicion hovers above or when frightening events take place (Mt. 1:20; 28:5, 10). Fear can easily turn into panic and hysteria, which may cloud our reason and vision. Panic may not only make us lose sight of the Christian teaching to turn the other cheek and the Suffering Servant’s example of giving his back to those who beat him, his cheeks to those who plucked his beard, and of not shielding his face from buffets and spitting; it may also prompt us to resort to “shock and awe” tactics and thus fail against basic justice by demanding two or more eyes for an eye and two or more teeth for a tooth. Hysteria may make us forget Christian mercy and compassion in such a way that we only uphold zero-tolerance policies that “can lead to conduct unbecoming a loving Christian community,” warns Curtis Bryant, S.J., in “Psychological Treatment of Priest Sex Offenders” (see the April 1, 2002 issue of America).

Believers do not surrender to death and darkness. Faith assures them that, at God’s command, order and light can arise when there are only formless wasteland and darkness.

Like Abraham, believers hope against hope and readily obey God and embrace poverty, letting go of things long held to be necessary in order for God’s promise to be fulfilled. They acknowledge that God creates out of nothing, raises the dead to life and lifts up the lowly.

Believers press on, as did the Israelites of exodus, despite seemingly insurmountable odds, protected from danger by the grace of God, who paradoxically makes use too of the frightening cloud to shield and guide them.

Believers know that God’s love for them is far too strong and wholly unconditional to be obstructed by the darkness of their repeated infidelities and his covenant of peace far too firm to be shaken by the death that their frequent betrayals mean.

Believers are convinced by faith that God brings them out of their dark past, pouring clean water over them and giving them new hearts, strengthening them and instructing them that they may learn to walk in his way and live in peace forever.

Professing with Martha their faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God, believers become children of the resurrection and are empowered to rise above mere worldly concerns (cf. Lk. 20:34-36).

Since they were buried with Christ through baptism into death, so also believers have been raised with him into a new life. They are thus able to pass over to where God is and seek, while still on this earth where there is still darkness and death, “what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

And abounding in resurrection faith and certain too, as was St. Vincent de Paul, that their experience of the darkness and death of oppression, suffering, trials and tribulations marks them unmistakably as Christ’s own who are destined to see the glory of God, believers proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes in glory and sing with St. John of the Cross (from the “Song of the Soul that Rejoices in Knowing God through Faith,” translated from the original Spanish by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D., and Otilio Rodríguez, O.C.D):

For I know well the spring that flows and runs,
although it is night.
This eternal spring is hidden
in this living bread for our life’s sake,
although it is night.
It is here calling out to creatures;
and they satisfy their thirst, although in darkness,
because it is night.
This living spring that I long for,
I see in this bread of life,
although it is night.