From Death to Life – Pat Nogoy, SJ

Matthew 28:1-10, Easter Sunday

It was supposed to be an ordinary visit. Getting up, preparing spices, washing up, and a slow walk to the tomb comprised a routine that might help heal a broken heart. It had been done before. Many times. Parents, cousins, friends, lovers. And now a beloved teacher. Shattered once more, she might have wondered how her heart would survive  this. Isn’t that the case for us who love and love much? We try to cling to a past no more, a past filled with happiness, hope. Then life is snatched unmercifully, leaving us fragile victims of an uncertain future. We begged that “If pain must come, may it come quickly. Because I have a life to live, and I need to live it in the best way possible,” as Paulo Coelho writes. Trying to live whatever life remained in her, Mary stood up and took the slow difficult walk that Easter morning. It was, just like all the other days past, an ordinary morning.

It happened instantly. Almost in the blink of an eye—the earth shaking, an angel appearing, guards rushing out in fear. And the body that she was supposed to visit and anoint, the body of her beloved teacher who had helped put her shattered life whole, was gone. Shocked and afraid, Mary gasped, “When will this all end!” Pushed to the edge, she chose to believe. “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.” She chose to hold onto a divine message for the sake of her life. She might have looked back the road she had taken in order to take another step on the road less travelled. It would have been easier and more than justified if she had given up and walked back home. But she had already come this far. “One more step,” she breathed, “Just this once. For one last time. Run!”

And run she did. With much faith. With only faith.

Love does not disappoint. In the middle of our last run, that run when we decide to give it all and never look back, when we have nothing but faith, God appears to meet, greet, and assure us— “Do not be afraid.” Like Mary, we are suddenly brought to life, rising from the seemingly dead end of evil and hopelessness around us. Broken hearts are made whole and new. Past wounds become sources of strength. Life is infused which  vigor and possibility. Like Mary, we learn to run again. Run with much faith. With only faith.

This time, to announce the good news.

Understanding Easter joy necessitates a choice to go through the contemplation of our Lord’s life, especially in suffering and death. There are some beautiful things the mind cannot grasp at present but that hearts can hold. Contemplating Mary, Peter, and John and the rest of the apostles whose faith-lives mirror ours leads us to our own Resurrection experience. Beauty may be our door to the truth, situating us in direct encounter with our Risen Lord in our own here and now. When we try to find and fight in love in the most complex, complicated, and confusing life battles, love finds us. Suddenly, like Mary, we are made whole again, infused with strength and will that can only come from a beautiful encounter with our Risen Lord, who always appear to meet, greet, and assure us in our own marathons of life.


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