The Easter season is a time for the resurrection and the conversation of hearts. It’s a time to reflect on our story, and to consider in what ways we may be called by Christ to a deeper conversion of our heart…to a new story for our lives.
We heard about one of those hearts in the Easter Sunday Gospel, where we met Mary Magdalene. This is the same Mary that three years earlier was a harlot, and she was possessed by seven demons. Until she met Christ; then her story changed forever. Healed of her afflictions, we met a woman who was one of the few courageous enough to stay with Christ during his crucifixion. On Easter Sunday we find her getting up early, in the cold darkness, intending to anoint Christ’s body, but instead she will be remembered forever as the first person to experience the empty tomb… the resurrection of the one who changed her life forever.
And who did Mary Magdalene run to and tell, but another person whose story was changed forever. Peter, who just three years earlier was a mediocre fisherman from Galilee; until he met Christ, then his story changed forever.
Peter’s conversion was a slow journey of healing his own demons…impatient, impulsive, cowardly…just three days earlier, after promising never to deny Christ, he denied him three times in just a few hours. Yet, through the power of the resurrection, the once impatient, impulsive and cowardly Peter became the “rock” of Christ’s bride, the Church; founded by Christ, led by Peter and his successors, and promised to last until the end of time.
These stories of conversion and change should provide great hope for us today. In spite of all our demons and fears and flaws and weaknesses, we, like Mary Magdalene and Peter, and all the other flawed disciples and followers, are also invited to enter the empty tomb, and to experience the resurrection…to begin a new side to our story.
And although Christ’s resurrection is a historical event, it’s not just history…it is also a spiritual mystery.
It’s a mystery in the sense that in the timelessness of eternity, what happened 2,000 years ago in our physical world, is just as assuredly happening now…at this present moment. In the timelessness of the spiritual world, if there is no time, the resurrection is now.
It means that today we celebrate not what happened, but what is happening at this moment, and at every moment. He is not out there somewhere as a historical Jesus, He is in our hearts, in our very being, deep within us. This is the resurrection story. He is alive…He is alive in our hearts.
And what is happening is God’s relentless desire to draw us to himself, through his son Jesus, in a deep and intimate way. To work within our hearts to conversion…to begin another side to our story.
This Easter we celebrate with great joy that we are a people, called to conversion, gathered in faith, gifted in a spirit of holiness, and loved unconditionally, forever, to the end of time….warts and flaws and demons and all; and all of humanity included… he desires us all…and he desires all of us…all the time. Our proper response is simply to accept his invitation and to follow him…just like his early followers did.
This is the other side of our story. This is the Easter story that changes everything, forever, for those who believe it and embrace it, and live it.
May we all believe and embrace and accept Jesus’s calling to draw us to himself. This is our Easter joy... Easter joy to you all!
Dn. John Cleveland