Happy Easter – He is risen! Alleluia!
If you look in the display cases in the commons hallway this morning, you will notice that the “St. Raymond Nonnatus” box is missing something. There is a white alb in there all by itself, and it looks a little out of place. It looks out of place because it’s usually covered by what I’m currently wearing. I went into the display case and I took it out. Why? Because I’m a renegade? Maybe.
A real problem that we have is our tendency to take our beautiful things and put them on display as if this place, this house, is a museum and not a living place. We’ve taken our treasures and put them on display, which in a sense is good because it means that people can see them. But does this mean the beautiful vestments our fathers and mothers bought for us can never be used or are reduced to decoration? Certainly not.
What’s our greatest treasure as Christians? What’s our greatest symbol? It’s the cross. What do we do with our crosses? We hang them on the wall and walk by them 500 times a day. We wear them around our necks but tuck them safely away inside our shirts. We’ve become immune to its meaning or, at least, take its meaning for granted.
Remember that the cross in the time of Jesus was a terrible thing; no one would dare hang it on a wall. For those living under the thumb of Rome, the cross represented the cruelest death a person could die. Bishop Barron talks about how even writers before the time of Jesus would use other language to talk about the cross; so inhumane and taboo was the subject that to even mention it was going too far. Likewise, the first depiction of the cross in Christian art didn’t appear until the 4th century AD.
The cross takes on a new meaning in Jesus, not because he died on it but because of what happened next: resurrexit, sicut dixit. He has risen, as he said! He said he would rise, and he really did rise. He was who he said he was and he is who he says he.
Faith in Christ requires us to be convinced of his resurrection. Life in Christ requires that we be convinced of our own resurrection. Jesus was the first fruits, the first of the harvest, of the resurrection. The Church has always believed that at the end of the ages, the tombs will be opened and the dead will rise.
There are little crucifixions and little resurrections every day. The second reading reminds us that we’re dead, and our lives are hidden with Christ in God. When people see us, hear us, or encounter us, they are seeing and hearing and encountering Christ. We’ve died, but not forever; our lives are only hidden with Christ, not ended completely. When Christ who is our very life appears in glory, we will appear with him.
The resurrection was joyful for the first disciples because they really believed that he was dead, gone forever. But he has risen, just as he said he would.