April 21, 2019 - Pastor Message05/20/2019
“At daybreak on the first day of the week the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them…They said to them, ’Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised’” (Luke 24:16).
On this Easter weekend, as we continue through our Year of Prayer here at St. Boniface, an important point to remember about the women who were the first to hear the gospel, or “good news,” of Jesus’ resurrection did so in a moment of prayer. When the crucified Jesus was taken down from the cross, it was late, and the next day was the sabbath, on which it was forbidden to do any work. So they did not have time to bury him properly but simply wrapped him in cloth and laid him in a borrowed tomb nearby. The women came to the tomb on the third day after Jesus’ death to correct that negligence by performing the prescribed Jewish funerary rites of cleansing and wrapping his body. They came to pray over their dead friend.
That was their plan, but God had other plans. The women’s prayer of mourning was preempted by God’s message of unbelievable joy. Jesus was not dead; he had risen as he said he would. When the women heard the victorious message of the angels, they themselves died. Their old life of disillusionment at Christ’s death was buried in that tomb, and they ran out of there with a new life of faith in the risen Jesus. The first to hear the gospel of the resurrection then became the first to share that gospel with others, telling the other disciples all about their amazing experience.
We live in troubled times. With scandals in the government and in the Church, with hate and violence on the rise and understanding and civility on the decline, with doomsday prophecies predicting the end of the world as we know it in everything from the environment to healthcare to technology, the prevailing attitude of our age seems to increasingly be one of despair, and this darkness is severely and negatively affecting people’s prayer lives. More and more people find it difficult to pray today, approaching prayer like the women on the way to the tomb, lost in the shadow of the cross, and approaching Jesus, not as risen and alive, but as dead and buried long ago, now nothing more than a distant memory of a man who had some nice things to say and did some good for some people but who can do nothing to improve the world today.
On Easter weekend, God comes to us in our darkness as he did the women at the tomb. He preempts our hollow prayer of mourning with the same message of unbelievable joy: Jesus is not dead! He has risen, and he is with us always, just as he promised. And if Jesus can conquer the cross, the worst that the powers of this world can do, he can conquer anything. Go to the risen Christ in prayer this Easter. Open the ears of your heart to hear anew the victorious message of the angels, let that message bury any despair and doubt in your life, and rise with Jesus to a new, hope filled, life giving faith. Then go out to those who are still lost in the darkness and share the same gift of faith and life with them too. From all of us here at St. Boniface, have a blessed and joy filled Easter!
Fr. Marc Stockton