03 May 2019


Easter 2018

This is the season the church Catholic celebrates those first shown the empty tomb and the risen Christ. Most prominent are the three Marys. Three woman, walked to the tomb, concerned as the tale goes, about the large stone blocking access. Carrying myrrh, spices and oil, they planned to anoint the body of Jesus. Things did not exactly work out.

When they saw the tomb entrance, the guards were gone, and the stone was moved aside. Looking into the tomb, they saw empty space. Two ran back to tell the disciples. But Magdalene stayed, weeping and trying to understand what had happened. Through her tears, she saw a man approaching, and assumed he was one who tended the area. She begged him to tell her where the body of Jesus was laid. The dialog which follows is remarkable.
  • Magdalene: Sir please tell me where he was laid.
  • Jesus: Mary
  • Magdalene: Teacher!

The dialog continues but this is key. Magdalene, who followed Jesus for years, who was close enough to him to be included in the embalming party, who sobed at his grave site, that Mary did not recognize him until he said her name. Either she was blind, not competent, or he had changed, a lot. What happened here?

I have heard some really bad teaching suggesting that her tears blinded her. But what is our experience? Sobbing is something many can relate to but a single blink clears vision at least enough to identify a beloved leader and teacher! I think we must look elsewhere for an answer.

In the collection we refer to as First Corinthians, St. Paul attempts to explain resurreccion. His audience is converted Jews and former pagan Greeks. A good pharisee, he teaches by analogy. I must note I have been dismissed or denigrate for sharing this teaching style, most recently by a priest in my parish, but Paul here, succeeds: brilliantly. He says we will have different, spiritual, and beautiful bodies. So what is a spiritual body? His answer ia an analogy. Flower seeds are buried, The plant dies. But in Spring, the seed puts forth new,life, a beautified flower that is the former plant, beautiful, and sometimes even more beautiful.

Here Paul teaches is the Gospel, the good news, Jesus came back, transformed, we will come back transformed. The earth, when Jesus comes again and we are raised, will be transformed. Corinthians, written before Mark is in my view, the first Gospel. Paul is announcing resurrection. But this is first century parable teaching. Paul is doing more. He is calling those who will be seeds to be flowers NOW. We are called to be new blooms in this world.

Paul doesn't tell his readers how to transform the world by magic. He calls them to lives of heroic love, virtue, and proclamation.

So here our challenge: how are we doing? In the face of rising fascism, anti-semitism, violence, and racism, how are we doing? Like Paul, I do not have an answer, only questions.

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