By Sister Marcella Clancy
“Christ’s resurrection is like the first eruption of a volcano which shows that in the interior of the world God’s fire is already burning, and this will bring everything to blessed ardor in its light. He has risen to show that this has already begun.” (Karl Rahner)
In these early days of the Easter Season, Resurrection nags at me. The slow deliberate movement of Holy Thursday and Good Friday draw me into the intimate, enormous love of Jesus as he bends to wash feet, gifts himself as Bread and Wine, endures unbearable suffering and fully surrenders to an ignoble death. The pervasive, waiting silence of Holy Saturday stirs anticipation for the unfolding joy of the Easter Vigil and the sheer gladness of Easter morning. Then…. What??? It feels to me the remaining 49 days of Easter seem rather anticlimactic? Is this as it should be? I perform certain Lenten practices to enter more fully into the suffering and death of Jesus. Why do I not have Easter practices to enter more fully into the Resurrection of Jesus? I am not sure if I give Easter its due, that I celebrate it wholly.
This may seem a heady and irrelevant question. A pondering that belongs in the realm of theological consideration. Yet, I sense the reality of Resurrection is to be more meaningful in my, and in our, everyday life. We are happy for Resurrection. We are glad things ended well for Christ. Yet, there is a tendency to think of personal Resurrection in the realm of the hereafter, a spiritual transformation, a promise fulfilled after the travail of this world. My tendency is not to think of Resurrection as tangible, as unfolding in my life now.
Resurrection is the living force of God’s undying love constantly and continuously at work in creation, in me, in you, a promise that is being fulfilled even as I write. Yet today the mass killings of ordinary Americans, the destruction of homes and lives from tornadoes and the injustice of racism dominate the news. No amount of words can describe the untold grief and heartbreak on this globe. Each of us can empathize because no one is exempt from loss, disappointment, sorrow, anguish, or pain. “Every day we experience something of the death of Jesus…” Each of us can identify with the suffering and death of Jesus because we touch it profoundly within the folds our own lives. Is not Resurrection, “…the power of Christ’s life in these bodies of ours”, (2 Cor 4:12) to be experienced even more deeply?
The power of Resurrection lives in everything: the rising sun, the buried seed, the budding crocus, the hanging chrysalis, spring rain, crushing beauty, the pregnant womb, the helping hand, the comforting word, the unexpected inspiration, an act of charity, the commitment to justice, reverence for creation, the movement toward goodness. Resurrection comes to us a thousand ways each day. Do I recognize it? Do I celebrate it? It is also true in every encounter each of us possess the capacity to deposit the power of Resurrection in others’ lives.
Resurrection is not shallow or glib, a forced joy. In the midst of suffering, hopelessness, and even death, Resurrection is the staying power of faithful love meeting God’s creative, enduring power of life. This is ultimately what is salvific. To work for justice in the midst of oppression, to work for unioning love in the midst of hatred, to work for kindness in the midst of violence, to work for generosity in the midst of greed, to work for equality in the midst of disparity, to work for reverence in the midst of desecration, to work for compassion in the midst of judgment — these are the moments we make the encounter with the Risen Christ just as real as those moments Mary Magdalen, the travelers on the Emmaus road, the disciples in the upper room, and Thomas met him. This tired world resembles the exhausted disciples who fished all night and caught nothing and yet in the dim light of morning, our work of faithful love points to an obscure figure on the shore and hope rises again, “It is the Lord!”
Lent is over. I put away my Lenten practices. But what do I take out to celebrate the Easter Season, the Resurrection of Christ? I hold the promise, the fire, the light, the power, the life of Resurrection within me. You hold it within you. The world suffers enough. What it needs is Resurrection.
About the Author
Sister Marcella Clancy, CSJ, is a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph and has degrees in theology and nursing. She has served in parish ministry, accompanied others in spiritual direction, and served as retreat director for many years. She has taught theology as an adjunct faculty. Currently she does some writing, spiritual direction, and gives presentations. She believes that the core of our life is moving toward love of God and love of our dear neighbor without distinction.